14 May 2015

Poetry Thursday - The Painter's Daughters Chasing a Butterfly by Paul Durcan

This clipping from a magazine - The Independent Magazine, 12 March 1994 - turned up in a bunch of papers, with no clue as to who the poet was. (Another poem and painting are on the other side.) You might be able to enlarge it and read the poem, but in case you can't, try the version below, which is from Life is a Dream: 40 Years Reading Poems 1967-2007 by Paul Durcan.
The painting, by Thomas Gainsborough, is in the National Gallery (via)

Paul Durcan (b.1944) is a contemporary Irish poet. Through his mother  he is a great-nephew of both Maud Gonne, muse of WB Yeats and Irish social and political activist, and John MacBride, one of the leaders of the Easter Rising, which began the Irish War of Independence leading to the foundation of the Irish state. While Durcan was studying law at University College Dublin (to please his father, a barrister and later judge) he was kidnapped by his family and committed to an asylum and later to a Harley Street clinic, where he was given electric shock treatment and heavy doses of drugs.

After moving to London in 1966 to work for North Thames Gas Board, he would visit the Tate Gallery at lunchtimes, especially the paintings of Francis Bacon. His degree is from University College Cork (1973) in archaeology and medieval history. He has collaborated with artists and musicians; the poems in the magazine were part of a commission by the National Gallery in 1994, which followed a similar commission from the National Gallery of Ireland in 1991.

Durcan is renowned as both an outspoken critic of his native country, and as a chronicler of its emergence from the repressions of the 1950s to the contradictions of the present day. More on his life and poems is here and here, which says his work "displays a desire to surprise the reader by resorting to surrealist eccentricity".

1 comment:

Sandy said...

why? on the kidnapping, shocks and drugs?