Do poets write enough prose?

I don’t,


I don’t know enough poets.

I’m not wondering whether poets write enough literary criticism, or study notes for creative writing students.

I’m asking myself which poet writes about Donald Trump, the decline of fish stocks, the discovery of new species on an island in Indonesia, and the like?

Do poets write crime novels, editorials for newspapers, even travel books?

Which poet is an undertaker – apart from Thomas Lynch?

I’m reading a book that’s out of date. “Can Poetry Matter?”

– essays on Poetry and American Culture” by Dana Gioia (a man).

I’m borrowing ideas he first shared in 1991.

I paraphrase what he said: the state of poetry in America is wretched.

Things have changed, Dana says recently. In the introduction to the 10th anniversary edition, he says things have got better. Poetry is no longer in the grip of an academic monopoly.

There are now countless poetry festivals, book fairs, reading series, discussion groups, and conferences based in the community rather than the academy.”

I started writing poetry in 1995. I’m not steeped in the poetry of others.

I can’t judge what the poetry scene is like on this side of the Atlantic, let alone Ireland.

But I can do a bit of research.

Are Irish poets earning their living teaching poetry in educational institutions?

Who are the best known living Irish poets?

  • Evan Boland
  • Brendan Kennelly
  • Ciaron Carson
  • Paul Muldoon
  • Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
  • Medbh McGuckian
  • Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill
  • Gerald Dawe
  • Theo Dorgan
  • Paul Durcan
  • Sean Dunne
  • Kerry Hardie

Michael Longley

born 27 July 1939) is from Belfast in Northern Ireland. the Ireland Professor of Poetry from 2007 to 2010, this being a cross-border academic post set up in 1998.

Derek Mahon

born 23 November 1941) was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. After leaving the Sorbonne in 1966 he worked his way through Canada and the United States. In 1968, while spending a year teaching English at Belfast High School, he published his first collection. He later taught in a school in Dublin and worked in London as a freelance journalist. He currently lives in Kinsale, Co. Cork

Paula Meehan

“born in Dublin 1955, moved to London. Returned to Dublin.

expelled for organising a protest march against the regime of the school. Outside school she was a member of a dance drama group, became involved in band culture and, around 1970, began to write lyrics. Gradually composing song lyrics would give way to writing poetry.

At Trinity College, Dublin, (1972–77) she studied English, History and Classical Civilization, taking five years to complete her Bachelor of Arts degree. This included one year off, spent travelling through Europe. While a student she was involved in street theatre and various kinds of performance.

After college she travelled again, spending long stretches in Greece, Germany, Scotland and England. She was offered a teaching fellowship at Eastern Washington Universitywhere she studied (1981–83) with James J. McAuley in a two-year programme which led to a Master of Fine Arts degree in Poetry. Gary Snyder and Carolyn Kizer were among the distinguished visiting writers to have a profound influence on her work and on her thought.[1]

She returned to Dublin in the mid-eighties. 

Meehan has also written poetry for film, for contemporary dance companies and for collaborations with visual artists; her poems have been put to music by songwriters (including Christy Moore) and composers.[2]

The 2015 Poetry Competition ‘A Poem for Ireland’ shortlisted her 1991 poem ‘The Statue of the Virgin at Granard Speaks’ in the final ten poems

Tom Paulin

born 1949 in Leeds, England – grew up in Belfast. While a teenager, Paulin joined the Trotskyist Socialist Labour League. He is a critic of film, music and literature. He lives in England, where he is the G. M. Young Lecturer in English Literature at Hertford College, Oxford.

Peter Sirr

born 1960 in Waterford, Ireland. He lives in Dublin. He was director of the Irish Writers’ Centre from 1991-2002, and editor of Poetry Ireland Review from 2003-7. He works as a freelance writer and translator. He lectures part-time at Trinity College Dublin.

Joseph Woods

born 1966 in Drogheda, Ireland. He was an industrial chemist. Director of Poetry Ireland, the national organisation for the support and promotion of poets and poetry from 2001 to 2013. He now lives in Harare, Zimbabwe with his wife and daughter. He works as a writer and editor.

Paddy Bush

born in Dublin in 1948, lives in Waterville, Co. Kerry. He works as an editor and has curated the anthology Voices at the World’s Edge: Irish Poets on Skellig Michael (Dedalus, 2010)

Rita Ann Higgins Higgins

was Galway County’s Writer-in-Residence in 1987, Writer in Residence at the National University of Ireland, Galway, in 1994–95, Writer in Residence for Offaly County Council in 1998–99. She was Green Honors Professor at Texas Christian University, in October 2000. Other awards include a Peadar O’Donnell Award in 1989, several Arts Council bursaries ‘Sunny Side Plucked’ was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. She was made an honorary fellow at Hong Kong Baptist University November 2006” (Wiki)

John F Deane

born 1943 on Achill Island, poet and novelist. He founded Poetry Ireland and The Poetry Ireland Review in 1979.” (Wiki)


Whom have I overlooked?

I’ll find about more of them when I have time (to be continued)

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Paul O'Mahony

I'm Paul O'Mahony (Poet). On Twitter you can reach me @Omaniblog A father. I work as business storytelling consultant - Podcaster - Blogger - Live streamer via Periscope - Foodie - I love to connect with people. . Live in Glanmire, Cork Ireland Europe

2 thoughts on “Do poets write enough prose?”

  1. Interesting and creative train of thought, Paul! Do we know the people, the society around us? Do we care enough to bend and pick up the available information?

    I have the inpression ndividualism – or is it self-absorbtion? – makes us stick to what we know, to our own endeavours, quests… Or is it just the individualistic consumeristic frenesy around us saying: Be a blind hyperactive hero?

    I have problems connecting to self-minded around Arpitan. Despite all the new available « media »…

    By the way Web 2.0 used to mean « with the possibility of interaction ». But is it still the main feature of the Internet?
    So few users interact…

    (Do we just have to accept that only 10 to 15% of the population interact? Or is this proportion going to develop thanks to an « eduction » of any sort ?

    To interact you need enough peace of mind and time to think. Enough self-confidence to try and express yourself. Enough growing urge to keep asking oneself questions… Can this be taught?…)


    1. “Do we care enough to bend …?
      “Do we just have to accept …
      “Can this be taught?”

      Thanks Dzakye.
      Well worth my time to interact with your quizzical thoughts.


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