Michael Hartnett was one of Ireland’s half-dozen greatest poets of the 2oth century. He died in 1999 at the age of 58. (Yeh, drink-related.)
Unlike most of his better known contemporaries, he was a pure poet. His ouevre is poems, and translations of poems. Also, his work was incredibly pure, as if from the ancient spring, but in modern times.
He was from Newcastle West in Limerick where they now have an annual festival in his name, the Éigse Michael Hartnett.
Here are some photos from this years’ festival, with Hartnett poems displayed in the town’s windows.
Éigse is Gaelic. The bilingual Hartnett once responded to news about an award with the immortal words: ‘Táimse flabbergasted.’
This is the just published first biography of Hartnett, A Rebel Act.
It was his definition of poetry. I have just reviewed it for International Times. www.internationaltimes.it
He often writes about hawks, and other birds, but in his own way. He was something of a blacksparred sparrowhawk himself.
This is from a sequence called ‘Secular Prayers’.
This is about poets in exile.
Like Blake he was both reactionary and revolutionary.
I was lucky to see him read several times in Dublin in the late 1980s, and once to have drank with him, though only managing a bit of small talk.
He is a world-class poet.