I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized With Karl and Groucho

With Karl and Groucho

Billy Mills
Brazilian Tequila: A Journey into the Interior, by Augustus Young, Matador, 160 pp, £10.99, ISBN: 978-1785899874 The Invalidity of all Guarantees: A Conversation between Bertolt Brecht and Walter Benjamin (1934), by Augustus Young, Labyrinth Books (2017), 222 pp, £6.31, ISBN: 978-1872468853 Augustus Young has remained one of the great perennial outsiders of Irish writing over the last forty-odd years. The publication in 1972 of his first full-length collection of poetry, On Loaning Hill, from the New Writers Press (NWP) marked the emergence of a distinctive new voice in Irish poetry. The ninety plus poems in the book show an acute sensibility and an interest in formal experimentation that was untypical of the younger poets published by the press, who generally eschewed what Young has referred to as the “reach for the shovel” tendency. However, although Young became personally close to Brian Coffey, who was something of a NWP totem, he was never really influenced by the older poet and his next two books, Dánta Grádha. Love Poems from the Irish (AD 1350-1750) and Rosemaries. A Verse Sequence, saw him become more engaged with syllabic verse structures and autobiographical themes, with an increasing facility for rhyme. These strands came together in The Credit. A Comedy of Empeiria, published in 1980, a fictional bildungsroman in syllabic ottava rima that is also a social satire of some ferocity.  When The Credit. Book Two / Book Three appeared six years later it consisted of a mix of that same verse structure and a type of rhymed open field composition in the form of a kind of Brechtian epic drama. It was now clear that Young was doubly outside, associated with the Irish avant garde, as represented by NWP, but unwilling to conform to narrow notions of the experimental. In addition to poetry, he expanded his range, writing fictionalised memoirs (or autofictions, as he calls them), somewhat in the vein of Aidan Higgins, translations, especially from Brecht and Mayakovsky, and cordels, a Brazilian folk form with something of the moral tone of the Robin Hood ballads, in his combined study/translation/original verse work Lampion and His Bandits: Literature of the Cordel in Brazil. Among his more recent books is m.emoire, a memoir/elegy in prose and verse for his late wife, Margaret McKinnon Morrison. This year has seen the publication of two prose books that reflect his protean range. Brazilian Tequila is a prose memoir that grew out of a trip to Brazil as part of his research for the cordel book,…

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