Author Archives: Arthur Broomfield

Outburst Magazine #15


The age of the triumph of the  lowest common denominator is upon us, it seems  from the   RTE short list of Ireland’s best poetry of the past  hundred years, and the so predictable winning choice, Seamus Heaney’s potato peeling sonnet from the ‘Clearances’ series in The Haw Lantern . The majority  of the ten named  poems  indulge the national predisposition to wallow in the sentimental and the anti-intellectual,  Derek Mahon’s ‘A Disused Shed in County Wexford’  being the notable exception, though this, we fear, will be misread  by a people who shy from poetry that challenges the cerebral.  Yeats’  ‘ Easter 1916’ a pre-Beckett  poem that in its irreducible essence addresses the relationship of language to perception is included, we fear, as a sop to the vulgar Nationalist agenda that has long sought to hijack the  outstanding work for  ideological  purposes. Eavan Boland, for too long side-lined by a Southern, guilt driven urge to doff the cap to the  Northern Ireland block, has written  poems that confront the lazy inclination to sentimentalize, but ‘Quarantine’ is not one of them. With a few exceptions the shortlist sits firmly into the death and potatoes tradition and struggles to escape the tired vocabulary of Catholic ritual and the bleeding heart victim. The list, of course, will be lauded by those with vested interests. It’s a bad day for poetry. The few who encourage innovation, those who struggle against the  influence of the Heaney sycophants, has been dealt another cruel body blow.… Read the rest