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.

Gerald Dawe

On the High Wire

John Berryman: a university poet in a society not much interested in poetry

Her True Face

Sylvia Plath presented an image to the world – brilliant student, stellar emerging poet and active, outdoor girl – while within she was deeply troubled and prone to the swings of a disabling depression. A sparkling new biography does full justice to both sides of Plath, and to her blazing art.

Looking Through You

Below is an extract from Looking Through You: Northern Chronicles by Gerard Dawe, published this summer by Merrion Press at €18.

The Power of Concentration

A new study provides a view of Seamus Heaney as a poet who broke through to the hearts and minds of the general reader, precisely because his poetic instincts were formed by the full resources and range of the English language, both historical and present-day, demotic and biblical.

The Struggles of Old Zeus

Is art predicated upon the artist’s psychology? Is the cost of high achievement inevitably a compromise with mental health and the destruction of human bonds? Robert Lowell believed his creativity was inevitably tied to feelings of drowning, that there was some ‘flaw in the motor’.

Neither West Brit nor Little Irelander

Irish Protestant identity has always been a more complex and various business than is suggested by the image of a Big House aristocracy enduring terminal decline. Post-Brexit, the Republic will be forced to think more on this subject. Its past record has not always been inspiring.

Wartime Voices

After the deluge of books, documentaries, exhibitions, conferences and commemorations marking the course of the First World War, there is something affirming in returning to the texts of poems written just before, during and somewhat after that cataclysmic event.

Among the Dead Men

JG Farrell had a curiosity that spanned various cultures and periods, a wicked sense of fun, a keen, unrelenting eye for the hypocrisy of particularly English manners of discourse and an understanding of the military and class basis of imperial self-belief.

A Life of Noticing

The mastery of American English which we associate with Richard Ford’s fiction – the subtle not-saying, the deflection of painful emotional realities into half-said or half-seen things – is abundantly present in a memoir in which he recalls and recreates the lives of his parents.

The Virtual Republic

John Hewitt was uncomfortable with the Northern state and frustrated by his inability to make contact with ‘his own people’. His verse is inflected with a growing consciousness of the damage done by the political exploitation of division and by a nostalgia for a different past.