By Theo Dorgan

Orpheus

In a book presented in two halves, and composed throughout in sapphics – in English, one of the most challenging of poetic forms – Dorgan’s contemporary Orpheus is part-drifter, part-troubadour, part-lover, recognising deeper patterns in his behaviour, but always of this place and time. In the book’s second half, the locus shifts farther out into mythic space with a parallel narrative from the Greek world that both mirrors and interweaves with the first half’s here-and-now.

Together they offer a fresh, adventurous and unexpected take on a foundational mythic figure.

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From self-imposed distance (“I stand back from the streetlight at her school gate”) to a distance that cannot be bridged in a single lifetime, the poems in Theo Dorgan’s extraordinary new collection tell the story of Orpheus, the musician-poet, from artistic awakening through to the cost of remaining faithful to his calling.

In a book presented in two halves, and composed throughout in sapphics – in English, one of the most challenging of poetic forms – Dorgan’s contemporary Orpheus is part-drifter, part-troubadour, part-lover, recognising deeper patterns in his behaviour, but always of this place and time. In the book’s second half, the locus shifts farther out into mythic space with a parallel narrative from the Greek world that both mirrors and interweaves with the first half’s here-and-now.

Together they offer a fresh, adventurous and unexpected take on a foundational mythic figure.

“… a deep understanding of the power
and alchemy of myth …”
— Carol Ann Duffy, on Greek

“[C]ontains some of the most moving and beautiful love poems written by any poet writing in English over the last few decades” — Philip Coleman, Dublin Review of Books (on Nine Bright Shiners)


 

Métro Saint-Michel. Everything much too loud
after a day of silence by the river.
At the interchange I plunge out, unheeding,
shouldering through crowds

to the far escalator. I turn, look back,
she’s stood there looking up, deep wells of sorrow
in her eyes. From the turbulent crowd she signs
I just can’t go on.

Hard fluorescent light, waterfall of black noise,
then a fainting away of all except
that resolute, beseeching figure. Her
unbearable poise.

I batter my way down, panic-struck, fearing
the worst. A loud hiss, the sound of doors closing,
rumbling rubber wheels, light on the last carriage
red, vanishing, gone.

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Product Detail

  • ISBN: : 9781910251300
  • Size: : 140 x 216 mm
  • Pages: : 80
  • Published: : April 2018

About The Author

Author

Theo Dorgan was born in Cork in 1953. He is a poet, prose writer, documentary screenwriter, editor, translator and broadcaster. Dedalus reissued his first two poetry collections, The Ordinary House of Love (1991) and Rosa Mundi 1995) in a single volume, What This Earth Cost Us, in 2008. His most recent collections are Greek (2010) and Nine Bright Shiners (2014). Songs of Earth and Light, his versions from the Slovenian of Barbara Korun, appeared in 2005 (Southword Editions), and his translation of the poems of Maram Al Masri's Barefoot Souls appeared in 2015. He has also published a selected poems in Italian, La Case ai Margini del Mundo, (Moby Dick, 1999), and a Spanish translation of his long poem Sappho’s Daughter La Hija de Safo, (Poesía Hiperión, 2001). Dorgan's prose account of a transatlantic crossing under sail, Sailing For Home, was published by Penguin Ireland in 2004 and reissued by Dedalus in 2010. His libretto Jason And The Argonauts, to music by Howard Goodall, was commissioned by and premiered at The Royal Albert Hall, London in 2004. A further prose book, Time On The Ocean, A Voyage from Cape Horn to Cape Town, was published by New Island in 2010. He has edited The Great Book of Ireland (with Gene Lambert, 1991); Revising the Rising (with Máirín Ní Dhonnachadha, 1991); Irish Poetry Since Kavanagh (Dublin, Four Courts Press, 1996); Watching the River Flow (with Noel Duffy, Dublin, Poetry Ireland/Éigse Éireann, 1999); The Great Book of Gaelic (with Malcolm Maclean, Edinburgh, Canongate, 2002); and The Book of Uncommon Prayer (Dublin, Penguin Ireland, 2007).
 A former Director of Poetry Ireland/Éigse Éireann, he has worked extensively as a broadcaster of literary programmes on both radio and television. He was presenter of Poetry Now on RTÉ Radio 1, and later presented RTÉ's TV books programme, Imprint.
 His awards include the Listowel Prize for Poetry, 1992, and The O'Shaughnessy Prize For Irish Poetry 2010. A member of Aosdána, he served on The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon 2003 -2008. He lives in Dublin.