Seamus Heaney treasured Dennis O’Driscoll’s ‘acuity as a critic’. The Outnumbered Poet, an extensive selection of Dennis O’Driscoll’s prose writings – critical, biographical and autobiographical – succeeds his much-praised Troubled Thoughts, Majestic Dreams (The Gallery Press, 2001). Opening on a personal note, it includes astute and incisive essays and reviews, encompassing poets as diverse as Anna Kamienska and Billy Collins, and surveying the work of major practitioners such as R S Thomas, Czeslaw Milosz and Yehuda Amichai. There are perceptive readings of the poetry with vivid and telling accounts of meetings with the poets themselves.
Drawing on his encyclopaedic knowledge of the Nobel laureate’s oeuvre, the book also offers in-depth considerations of Seamus Heaney’s writings, and – among several previously unpublished essays – a ground-breaking overview of the life and poetry of Ireland’s poète maudit, Michael Hartnett.
Immensely readable, eloquent and often witty, this treasure trove demonstrates the broad church of an indispensable advocate’s thinking.