James Liddy

John Redmond (ed,)

James Liddy: Selected Poems


9781851320264 paperback

9781851320363 limited edition

From the ‘Introduction’ by John Redmond:

In making a case for the importance of Liddy’s canon, one could promote it, convincingly enough, as an early example of the Americanisation of Irish literature, or, in a similar vein, as an early example of ‘out’ gay Irish poetry. Still, one should be careful … Liddy had an open, many-angled view of the world and his writing is best received in a similar spirit … Among the many effects, positive and negative, of Liddy’s move to America in the mid-1960s was an attachment, manifest in his writing and conversation, to the pre-television Ireland he had left behind − this despite being a gay poet who had moved to a more tolerant culture. Having once belonged to Dublin’s literary scene, Liddy was reluctant to let that scene die, even when it seemed long dead to others. His poems − his prose-poems especially − gossip eagerly about that half-forgotten past, dropping old-fashioned names as though they still carried their original cachet … If some of his favourite themes − sex, religion, history − were not so surprising, his treatment of them usually was. Not so much an erotic poet as one who was in favour of eroticism, he was also a spiritual poet who had a lingering fascination with institutional religion … He had too, a historically informed imagination, always looking to retrieve little-known facts from the past, piecing them together in new shapes. Far from being stuck in his age group, he − again − looked both ways, towards those who were much older and those who were much younger … Like thresholds through which the freshness blows, like architraves into the blue, Liddy’s poems point beyond themselves to the rich diversity of life. Cathedrals, boys, bodies, books, food, adventures − always the pressure of a life being lived forces itself against the outlines of his verse.