The Poetics of Derek Mahon
The preparation for this project included short research forays in Belfast in 2009, 2010 and 2012 as guest of Stranmillis College, Queen’s University Belfast as well as longer research trips within semester-free periods to copyright libraries in Ireland (Dublin), Northern Ireland (Belfast) and Scotland (Edinburgh). The last poem of Mahon’s early poetry is a work of ‘rich despair` (Camus) and left the poet silent for some years. The poetry of the middle period has since been revised, but the poetics of the post-1999 world has been less well mapped. Mahon has stated that few gifted poets write more than 10 (certainly no more 15) key poems. This Literature project seeks to elucidate and understand these central works in their relation to peripheral texts and analyses Mahon’s thematic complex: from the earlier concept of ‘home’ to the later poetics of ecology, Gaia, global warming and littoral space.
Mahon grew up in Belfast, like the present author. The project is split into three sections and compri-ses three approaches:
1a. Reference Text: Derek Mahon – Selected Poems. Penguin Books/Gallery/OUD (1990)
Scope: The Earlier Poetry, from In Carrowdore Churchyard to Death and the Sun. The project begins with this last poem.
1b. Reference Text: Derek Mahon: Collected Poems: Gallery Books (1999)
Scope: The Middle Poetry, 1991-1999) including two poem sequences: The Hudson Letter (1995) and The Yellow Book (1997).
1c. Reference Text: New Collected Poems (2012)
Scope: The Later Poetry of Derek Mahon: Harbour Lights (2005), Life on Earth (2008), An Autumn Wind (2010), Raw Material (2011) and New Collected Poems (2012).