Poems and translations by Greg Delanty chosen and introduced by Archie Burnett.
A sense of vital, actual experience is in fact wonderfully sustained in Delanty’s verse in its notable linguistic energy, product of a distinctive fusion of a literary lexicon (even Latinate at times) with contemporary demotic, Cork argot, Irish language phrases, place names, craft cant and North American slang (baseball lingo in one poem, ‘Tagging the Stealer’). The language of his verse functions indeed as the verbal equivalent of the printer’s hellbox (subject of one of the nest of Delanty’s poems), which the poet tells us ‘was a container in which worn or broken type was thrown to be melted down and recast into new type’. For in Delanty’s work a world in constant transition (the ‘simultaneous going and comings of life’) is realized in a vocabulary and variegated tonal register that displays language itself in the process of being re-made.
— Terence Brown, “Greg Delanty and North America”, Agenda, 2008
Following upon his Guggenheim Fellowship, Agenda devoted its Summer/Autumn issue in 2008 to the celebration of Greg Delanty’s 50th birthday. In a sense it was a twain celebration, language being re-made and voice re-born by Atlantic Crossings.
Ulster people are British and Irish people are Irish, and never the twain shall meet.
An adaptation of
Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet
— Rudyard Kipling, ‘Barrack-Room Ballads’ (1892). But what, when the twain meet, of Greg Delanty and North America.
Greg Delanty was born in Cork City, Ireland, in 1958 and lived in Cork until 1986. He became a US citizen in 1992, and retains his Irish citizenship. He now lives most of the year in Burlington, Vermont, where he is the Poet in Residence at St. Michael’s College. He returns to his Irish home in Derrynane, County Kerry, each summer. Delanty has either written or edited seventeen books and has received numerous awards for his poetry including The Patrick Kavanagh Award (1983), The Allan Dowling Poetry Fellowship (1986), the Austin Clarke Centenary Poetry Award (1997), and a Guggenheim Fellowship for poetry (2008). He has received an Irish Arts Council Bursary, and has been widely anthologized.
Greg Delanty’s papers up to 2010 are housed in The National Library of Ireland. His papers from 2010 to 2015 are housed in the Boole Library of University College Cork.
He is Past President of The Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers (ALSCW).
Archie Burnett is Director of the Editorial Institute and Professor of English at Boston University. He took a first in English at Edinburgh University before doing a DPhil at Oxford on Milton’s language. From 1974 to 1978 he was Junior Research Fellow in English at St John’s College, Oxford, and subsequently Lecturer and eventually Professor at Oxford Brookes University. His major publications are Milton’s Style: The Shorter Poems, Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes (1981), the Oxford editions of The Poems of A. E. Housman (1997) and The Letters of A. E. Housman (2007), and Philip Larkin: The Complete Poems (Faber, 2012). His editorial work has drawn the highest praise. He is currently preparing a multi-volume edition of the collected prose of T. S. Eliot for Faber.