A contemporary poet fit to stand beside Yeats

confronting_shadowsConfronting Shadows: An Introduction to the Poetry of Thomas Kinsella
by David Lynch (New Island, €24.99)

by Desmond Egan

In this era of the sham in both literature and life, poet Thomas Kinsella is the real thing:

“Thou shalt not entertain,

charm, or impress;

consider the response

or the work of others;

confirm viewpoints,

satisfy expectations,

leave crucial issues confused,

or impose order.”

How many contemporary writers could live with that manifesto?

So David Lynch’s careful, informed and insightful study is welcome. His analysis of some of the poems is often revealing, and he has researched this demanding poet’s work responsibly. Mr Lynch offers the different perspective of someone who has been a reporter on the Middle East and Egypt and his critique comes across as fresh, not dependent on received opinion (such as dogs much of the writing on Heaney) and honestly personal.

He brings out Kinsella’s interest in the Chinese ideas of Tao, based on the 6th Century writings of Lao Tzu, and in Jungian psychology – both news to me – though Lynch might be accused of overdoing such intellectual enthusiasms: any poem being more than a play of ideas.

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