Born in Dublin in 1941, Irish poet Eamon Grennan taught at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, for over thirty years. His many volumes of verse have been published in Ireland and the United States since the 1980s. Still Life with Waterfall won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize in 2003, and his translation of the poems of Leopardi won the PEN Translation award in 1998. There Now, his latest book, won the Irish Pigott Prize for poetry in 2016. Grennan’s poems have appeared over the years in many American and Irish journals, including The New Yorker, Poetry Ireland, The Irish Times, Poetry London, TLS, The Threepenny Review, Yale Review, Terrain, and many others. He has also published a collection of critical essays, Facing the Music: Irish Poetry in the 20th Century, and (with his partner, Rachel Kitzinger) translations of Sophocles’s Oedipus at Colonus and The Women of Trachis. For the past ten years he has also been writing and directing short plays on Irish subjects for the Curlew Theatre Company based in the west of Ireland. He lives in Poughkeepsie and Connemara.
Publication Date: June 28, 2022
Poems that prompt and deepen our attention to the world.
Grennan’s new collection shows again his powers of close, patient, plainspoken observation. Whether his gaze falls on the dash of a hare, dive of a gannet, heavy stillness of a rain-flecked cow, the song of a lark, or the scurry of an ant across a page of Celan, the poem that emerges is a celebration of the momentary fact, how a particular detail can, when sufficiently attended to, glow with the truth of its own unrepeatable self. Set mostly in the landscape of coastal Connemara, these poems can also bring to vivid life a painting by Bonnard, a family walk, a childhood memory, a chance encounter, a man scything a field, or a brief probing of the work of Beckett. Paying attention is this poet’s credo, coaxing his simple but layered, often interrogative language into revealing shapes. Grennan also chooses the repeated format of the poems themselves (justified right and left margins of different widths), aligning accident with design, choice with chance, to articulate his sense of the world as an energy poised dynamically between fact and form, between the time-anchored data of the world and the shaping rapture of art. These are poems that serve—through their intensely observed details and the rich, patient exactitudes of Grennan’s language—to sharpen our own habits of attention, renewing our sense of the often unnoticed worlds around us.