Sean O’Brien’s T.S. Eliot Prizewinner’s Lecture: Two Perspectives

by

BASED ON A TRUE STORY
by adham smart

“Nothing is outside, or above, the sphere of the political,” I muttered, sitting outside on the first floor of the Royal Festival Hall, a glass of wine in my hand and Sean O’Brien’s gonglike voice conveyor-belting through my head. “Nothing is outside the sphere of the political. Well, of course it isn’t. I’ve looked for something that is. Donaghy’s poetry does not simply rub up against fiction, it is the most exotic fiction of it all, and so the most political. An Irish-American who lived most of his later life in the UK – if he wasn’t being political there would’ve been something wrong with him!”

At that moment the wind grabbed the notes I’d taken during the lecture that I’d been writing from and whipped them over the edge into the London-thick air. Instinctively I leapt after them, stretched out my hand to grasp them, but they flew too fast for me, and both of us met the river.

I sank like a joke on Remembrance Day, while the wretched paper clung to the meniscus. (“Like a child that comforts its father simply by existing,” I mused.)

As the hellish-cold tides of the Thames violated my lungs I felt a disturbance in my wake, and as I looked skywards I saw Sean O’Brien himself in descent towards me, an unpoetically sharp knife clenched between his jaws. He removed the knife to angrily burble at me:

“DO A BITTA READING BEFORE YOU COME TO ONE O’ MY LECTURES, YA LITTLE BLEEDER!”

These were the last words I heard and, as I’m sure you’ll agree, they are most political.

A Nonsense of Comparison
by George Ttoouli

The one sentence review

Abstraction after abstraction, name drop after name drop.

A partial list of abstractions used by Sean O’Brien during his lecture on Michael Donaghy

poignant absurdity
authentic but uncategorisable
problematically
supreme heresy
comprehend and encompass
adjacently placed
bleak series
the horrors of complacent ignorance
the monopoly of reason
a more complicated poem
crowded yet often solitary
lies, illusions, things which are not there
sacred personal thing
sacred with profane
faith with deception
web of contradiction
an inheritance he is powerless to evade
dispel the fears attendant on the adult night
compellingly intimate
rapturously self-interested
vulgarity
remote self-regard
an act of faith

A partial list of comparisons made for Michael Donaghy’s poetry

Modernist poetry
TS Eliot
Ezra Pound
WB Yeats
Postmodernist poetry
Anti-postmodernist poetry
Academic poetry
Anti-academic poetry
Irish poetry
Paul Muldoon
American poetry
Richard Wilbur
Robert Bly
English poetry
Irish-American poetry
Irish-American English poetry
Anglo-American poetry

The one-line poem review

Singing the anthems of abstraction in the square.

The haiku review

Thin ice on the lake
big frog drowns in the shapeless
fascist murk beneath

Advertisements

Tags: , ,

One Response to “Sean O’Brien’s T.S. Eliot Prizewinner’s Lecture: Two Perspectives”

  1. Gerry Wardle Says:

    Those with open minds and intellectual curiosity may like to read the text of the lecture:

    http://www.poetrybookshoponline.com/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: