Saturday, 25 July 2015


Susan Lindsay sheds light on Derek Mahon's competitiveness with Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney by retelling an incident where Mahon refused a 'second-place' prize:
I was listening to poet Derek Mahon’s controversial biographer, Stephen Enniss, last night—as he was interviewed by Vincent Woods on Arts Tonight on RTE Radio 1*. Savouring the pleasure of hearing Derek Mahon himself, in excerpts from previous interviews and hearing him read a few of his poems. Stephen Enniss acknowledges that Mahon and Seamus Heaney were good friends but also, inevitably, rivals. He linked the withdrawal of Derek Mahon from the public sphere of poetry, including his refusal of an OBE from the Queen of his birth-place, Northern Ireland, to the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Heaney. The wisdom of which withdrawal Enniss absolutely regrets and he hopes his book will provide a counterbalance, keeping Derek Mahon’s poetry closer to the foreground of international attention. It will be good if it achieves that although the poems speak for themselves.
(Portrait by Anthony Palliser)

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