Dennis O'Driscoll

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Dennis O'Driscoll(1954-2012) was an Irish poet, essayist, critic and editor.

Poetry Quotes[edit]

  • If poets spoke their poetry , they would not need to write it.
  • The priority for the poet must be his poetry, the poetry must determine his agenda and deadlines
  • Writers are not neccessarily articulate simply because poetry is their stock-in-trade.
    • Introduction -'Stepping Stones' interviews with Seamus Heaney Faber & Faber 2009
  • I am completely passive about my poetry, unless I sense the rhythms, see the images and hear the words spontaneously, I am helpless.
  • Usually what is termed 'Inspiration' means the ingredients are garnered for you and you must concoct a suitable recipe.
  • I put all my poetry in long hand, try to let the idea marinate as long as possible, clinging to the commonplace notion of a creative connection between the movement of the hand and the flow of imagination.
  • There is no one way 'correct' way of becoming a writer. The very quirks and eccentricities which a workshop will probably discourage may in fact be the aspiring writer's most valuable capital in the longer term. Would be literary Samsons should be wary of enrolling in a hairdressing school.
  • I know I am in the grip of a true poem when I can hardly bear to read it calmly at first.
  • Interview, Mark Thwaite, 12th August 2005, 'Ready Steady Books for literature'
  • Our creative habits are as mysterious to each other as our domestic habits.
  • All poets face the same task to 'follow the prompts' and satisfactorily shape the amorphous sounds, rhythms, images or phrases by which a potential poem is recognised.
  • I am wedded to the notion that Inspiration is the sine que non , the non negotiable prelude to writing a poem.
  • The rhythm of poetry and the routine of work are interdependent for some poets
    • 'Sing for the Taxman-Poetry Magazine-Poetry Foundation May 1 2009
  • What we call inspiration in poetry is usually a visitation of words and rhythms rather than ideas.
  • I would say that poetry for most people is like the Christmas tree that is kept in the attic and is taken down in its appropriate season.
  • Sheer power of a great poem is enough to guarantee that it will ultimately make itself felt ,if the reader is in a receptive mood.
    • Interview Michael Garvey @Irish Literary Supplement' Fall 1998
  • I am very driven when it comes to poetry, a complete obsessive of the truth be told.
  • I love the way form and rhythm can somehow confer a higher destiny on even the most workaday words.
  • Genuine poetry reminds us how little we truly know, it is a vehicle for discovery, not a conduit for omniscience.
    • Interview by email with Elizabeth MacDonald 2004, published 'Poetry Ireland Review'
  • Poetry is most convincing when its elements have been lived.
  • Language is at the heart of poetry and it is difficult to commandeer words which elicit no personal echo . Of what we can speak, we need not be silent.
    • Interview with Eugene O'Connell 'Cork Literary Review vol xiii 2009

Other Quotes[edit]

  • Everybody has certain preoccupations they return to.What looks like an obsession, is often something more modest, namely a return to the fray through a somewhat different angle of vision..from a different stage of your experience.
  • When human beings banish God from the world, they make Gods of themselves.
  • Poetry is nothing less than an aspiration to absolute truth.
    • Interview wiyh Kieran Owens ' The Event Guide' December 2002
  • A defining mark of poetry is that it defies definition.
    • Introduction - ' The Bloodaxe Book of Poetry Quotations' ed. Dennis O'Driscoll 2006
  • There is a democratic but deluded post-modern fantasy whereby everybody is demed an artist.
  • Poetry is a highly visible art in Ireland ; in our rapidly secularised society, it has become a kind of erzatz religion, applying the elevated ceremonial language without the divisive doctrine.
  • However much poetry may be respected in Ireland , this respect more often translates , in practice, into tolerance and acceptance, rather than support. Poetry is a 'nice' thing to live with , as long as it does not come too close.
  • Even the Revenue is better loved by the twenty first century Irish natives than were the English colonists who ruled from Dublin Castle in earlier centuries.
    • 'Sing for the Taxman' -Poetry Magazine-Poetry Foundation May 1 2009
    • Having lived in Ireland all my life I can hardly be more 'Irish', in ways that are invisible to me. My inclination is to play down my Irishness rather than whip it up. Nothing is more potentially damaging to an Irish writer than buying into the myth that we have some locutions and the so called ' gift of the gab' too many Irish writers have fall prey to such delusions.
    • Interview ,Mark Thwaite, 12th August 2005. 'Ready Steady Book for literature'

  • Seamus Heaney is no more Irish than that other poet of the local, universal and eternal , James Joyce. Both men think locally and globally.
    • Book Depository interview with Mark Thwaite 2009

Quotes about O'Driscoll[edit]

  • A poet who on the one hand read tremendous amounts of poetry, and who on the other hand was unhampered by academic study.
    • Richard Tillinghurst, 'Finding Ireland:A poet's exploration of Literature and culture' Notre Dame Press 2008
  • Dennis was beloved by his friends for his originality as a poet, his acuity as a critic, his probity, courage and his merriment as a man.
    • 'My hero:Dennis O'Driscoll' Obit quote by Seamus Heaney -Guardian Thursday Jan 3 2013
  • A poet's service to the poetry of any nation consists in setting before us hopeful marvels of craft and consideration.O'Driscoll provides such marvels.
  • O'Driscoll's reputation as a man of letters rests on his poetry and also on his unfailing courtesey and encouragement to other writers,and the patience and humility of his untiring critical commentary.
    • Citation -The Lawrence O'Shaunessy Award April 2006

External link[edit]

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