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Not a Damn Thing

Nick Laird: In Yeats’s wake

18 August 2005
Collected Poems 
by Patrick​ Kavanagh, edited by Antoinette Quinn.
Allen Lane, 299 pp., £25, September 2004, 0 7139 9599 8
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... might. k: I dare say you might get $500. me: You might, indeed. k: You might even get $1000? me: Still, I’d say $500 wouldn’t be too bad, wouldn’t you? This is a typical anecdote about Patrick Kavanagh, touching as it does on his unproductiveness (‘the ex-poet’), his peculiar connection to Yeats, his prickliness. Kavanagh was born in 1904 in the townland of Mucker in the parish of ...

Old Gravy

Mark Ford

7 September 1995
Robert Graves: Life on the Edge 
by Miranda Seymour.
Doubleday, 524 pp., £20, July 1995, 0 385 40423 9
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Robert Graves and the White Goddess 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 618 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 297 81534 2
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Robert Graves: His Life and Work 
by Martin Seymour-Smith.
Bloomsbury, 600 pp., £25, June 1995, 0 7475 2205 7
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Robert Graves: Collected Writings on Poetry 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Carcanet, 560 pp., £35, June 1995, 1 85754 172 3
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Robert Graves: The Centenary Selected Poems 
edited by Patrick Quinn.
Carcanet, 160 pp., £15.95, April 1995, 9781857541267
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... Since the age of 15 poetry has been my ruling passion and I have never intentionally undertaken any task or formed any relationship that seemed inconsistent with poetic principles; which has sometimes won me the reputation of an eccentric,’ Graves writes at the start of The White Goddess (1948), his synoptic account of the history of Western myth. His eccentricity took many forms, as many as the ...


Daniel Soar: John McGahern

21 February 2002
That They May Face the Rising Sun 
by John McGahern.
Faber, 298 pp., £16.99, January 2002, 0 571 21216 6
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... hit (he always is), but being away nearly kills him. The Shah spent three days on Lough Derg once, and when he goes away with his niece he is in agony: two holidays are enough for any lifetime. John Quinn, famous for his love of women, is made to chase a fleeing wife across Ireland, and from all the talk you might suppose he’d been around the globe. Because That They May Face the Rising Sun does ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Gardens

8 July 2004
... sections entitled ‘Representing and Intervening’ and ‘Coloured Grounds’ in which the reference to gardens is so oblique that ‘Florists’ Shops’ would serve as well. Photographs of Marc Quinn’s display of exotic flowers frozen in silicone and Anya Gallaccio’s Red on Green (‘10,000 fragrant English tea roses, heads laid on a bed of thorns’) give the exhibition a bit of glamour; the ...


John Kerrigan

18 July 1996
The ‘O’o’a’a’ Bird 
by Justin Quinn.
Carcanet, 69 pp., £7.95, March 1995, 1 85754 125 1
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Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet in Our Time 
by Eavan Boland.
Carcanet, 254 pp., £18.95, April 1995, 1 85754 074 3
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Collected Poems 
by Eavan Boland.
Carcanet, 217 pp., £9.95, November 1995, 1 85754 220 7
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Captain Lavender 
by Medbh McGuckian.
Gallery Press, 83 pp., £11.95, November 1994, 9781852351427
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... in verse, as though poets hoped that renewed encounters could release the energies still locked in archaic nationalism, and clarify relations between patriotic sentiment and sexual politics. Justin Quinn tries to get to the bottom of this phenomenon in his lively first collection, The ‘O’o’a’a’ Bird. The pale, red-haired beauty of his ‘Ur-Aisling’ is so thoroughly archetypal that she ...

The Sacred Cause of Idiom

Frank Kermode: Lady Gregory

22 January 2004
Lady Gregory's Toothbrush 
by Colm Tóibín.
Picador, 127 pp., £7.99, September 2003, 0 330 41993 5
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... Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, who was, as Foster observes, a professional philanderer. Much later, when Yeats was prematurely describing her as a woman stricken with age, she had a delirious affair with John Quinn, the American lawyer who was the great, almost indispensable, patron of the Yeats family. Foster, noting that her son, Robert, unlike Sir William, was short, allows himself (hiding the news in a note ...

I Could Fix That

David Runciman: Clinton

17 December 2009
The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History in the White House 
by Taylor Branch.
Simon and Schuster, 707 pp., £20, October 2009, 978 1 84737 140 9
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... fixing, fighting, cajoling, despairing, scheming, outwitting, getting outwitted, and all the time feeding off the power. At one point, our hero (George, not Bill) takes a fancy to Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze’s costar in Dirty Dancing, and he gets his people to sound out her people about whether she fancies a date. Yes she does! He goes to gatherings of Greek-Americans and they crowd round ...

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