Patrick Kavanagh

Patrick Kavanagh

About Patrick Kavanagh

Patrick Kavanagh (21 October 1904 – 30 November 1967) was an Irish poet and novelist. He is considered one of the leading poets of the 20th century, famous for the novel Tarry Flynn and the poem On Raglan Road. He published his first volume of poetry Ploughman and Other Poems in 1936.
Patrick Kavanagh is considered one of the most interesting and at the same time most contradictory representatives of Irish poetry and literature after the Irish Renaissance. In a manner characteristic of many Irish writers, his work blends a passionate love of his native land with an equally passionate criticism of his country. The judgments about his literary work are accordingly very different; the scale ranges from the appreciation of Kavanagh as a "pioneer of modern Irish literature" to a complete devaluation as a "provincial opponent of an innovative literary development". Kavanagh's move to Dublin in 1939 was by no means a break with his origins in his village environment Inniskeen. The subsequent phase of hectic journalistic activity began with writings of very different quality. He faced in many times narrow censorship and engaged in several lawsuits that eventually ruined his health. When lung cancer threatened to end his work in 1955, he felt that surviving an extremely risky lung operation was a form of rebirth and developed new vitality and energy, which led to poetry that was highly accomplished in both language and thought. He wrote many of his poems during this period in the classic sonnet form, like in his collections Recent Poems (1958) or Come Dance with Kitty Stobling and Other Poems (1960) and Collected Poems (1964). His book The Great Hunger (1942) is regarded as one of the central works of modern Irish poetry.
Nobel Prize laureate Seamus Heaney acknowledges that he has been influenced by Kavanagh and that he learned of Kavanagh's poetry through the writer Michael MacLaverty, when they taught together at St Thomas' Center in Belfast. The poetry of both shares the belief in the capacity of the local, and even small-town, to reveal the universal. Heaney has said of Kavanagh's poetry that it had a transformative effect on general culture and unleashed the gifts of poetic generations that came after him. He also noted that Kavanagh is a truly representative modern figure in which subversion revealed itself to him: dissatisfaction, both spiritual and artistic, is what inspired his growth. [...] His teachings and example helped us to see an essential difference between what he called small-town and provincial mentalities.

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