Sunday November 1st is exactly a month since Ireland’s great poet Derek Mahon died. To mark his ’Month’s Mind’ and pay tribute to the memory of Derek, we bring you this short film, directed by Sé Merry Doyle and starring the poet Niall McDevitt, who reads some of Mahon’s poetry.
About DEREK MAHON
Derek Mahon was widely regarded as one of the most talented and innovative poets of the late 20th century. He was affiliated with the generation of young poets from Northern Ireland who rose to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s. Critics have compared his poetry to that of such masters as W.H. Auden, Louis MacNeice, and Samuel Beckett.
A voluntary exile from his native Belfast, Mahon explored themes of isolation, loneliness, and alienation in his poetry. After studying French at Trinity College, Dublin, Mahon spent a year in France at the Sorbonne; he subsequently lived and worked in cities across the United States and Canada before moving to London to become a journalist, and later returning to Dublin.
At times expressing anti-establishment values, Mahon had often described himself as an ‘aesthete’ with a penchant ‘for left-wingery’. Upon his passing The President of Ireland Michael D Higgins said of Mahon “he shared with his northern peers the capacity to link the classical and the contemporary but he brought also an edge that was unsparing of cruelty and wickedness”.
During his distinguished career Derek Mahon produced 24 collections of poetry and one work of collected prose and he won 10 awards, including the ‘Guggenheim Fellowship’ ; ‘The Irish Times Poetry Now award’; He was given an Honorary doctorate from Trinity College Dublin and an Honorary doctorate from NUI Galway. He was also a member of Aosdána.
“Derek Mahon is one of Ireland’s most gloriously gifted poets – and our bravest and most stylish wielder of the singing line. I consider it a privilege to have been intimidated for three decades by the altitude of his practise and achievement” – Irish Poet Michael Longley, on Derek Mahon, in 1990.
London Based Irish poet Niall McDevitt is the author of three collections of poetry, (Waterloo Press, 2010), Porterloo (International Times, 2013) and Firing Slits: Jerusalem Colportage (New River Press, 2016). His work also appears in several anthologies of poetry.
Niall is also a walking artist who specialises in the historic poets of London, particularly Shakespeare / Blake / Rimbaud / Yeats.
He is Presenter in the films “The Battle Of Blythe Road’ (about W.B Yeats) and “James Joyce – Reluctant Groom”, both directed by Sé Merry Doyle; available to view on www.irishculturalcentre.co.uk/digital
Niall blogs at poetopography.wordpress.com.