After the Titanic: A Life of Derek Mahon, by Stephen Enniss, pp. 344. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. Distributed by Dufour Editions, Chester Springs, PA. $50. Derek Mahon (b. 1941), is central to the remarkable late twentieth-century efflorescence of poetry in Ireland that includes Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, Eavan Boland, John Montague, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Paul Muldoon, Ciaran Carson, and Medbh McGuckian, among others. His essential poetry, translations, and literary journalism from the early 1960s to the present reach from the parish to the universe (as Patrick Kavanagh, a poet he came to late but admired for his attentiveness to "ordinary life" and his profoundly "earthed" quality, would have it) and back, ensuring his work's relevance for Ulster, Irish, British, continental, and global contexts and concerns. Stephen Enniss's affective, intimate, and comprehensive biography, After the Titanic: A Life of Derek Mahon sensitively portrays the scope of Mahon's achievement, but it does more by driving at an understanding of the very origins of Mahon's art. Although the book dutifully records Mahon's self-defining trust in "the artist as outsider," Enniss ensures that in the telling of Mahon's story through his work and the numerous life-altering crises the poet
New Hibernia Review – Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas
Published: Feb 5, 2016
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