Louis de Paor is one of Ireland's leading Irish-language poets, and was a key figure in the Irish language poetry renaissance of the 1980s and 90s. His dual-language selection The Brindled Cat and the Nightingale’s Tongue was published in 2014, following his selected poems, Rogha Dánta (2012), voted one of the top ten collections in Irish since the turn of the millennium.
This new dual-language selection is mainly drawn from two other collections, Cúpla Siamach an Ama/The Siamese Twins of Time and Grá fiar/Crooked Love, with translations made by Louis de Paor with Kevin Anderson and Biddy Jenkinson. It shows a paring back of language and a greater flexibility of form in his poetry, as well as a preoccupation with the passage of time and its implications for both familial and sexual love.
His narrative skill and inventiveness come together in the sequence 'Lá dá raibh/One day', which follows a day in the life of an imaginary village in the west of Ireland where the living and the dead, the real and the unreal, collide. This was adapted for a dual-language radio feature with music by Dana Lyn broadcast on RTÉ Lyric FM and Raidió na Gaeltachta in 2021.
‘There is a great deal of narrative play and wit. The imagery is taken from common life as observed at first hand mostly, but transformed by a delight in resemblance and transformation… there is a Chagallian inclusiveness and generosity in the poems that is more than its incidents. The poetry can turn to darkness and the public world as well as to the intimate village or street.’ – George Szirtes, Poetry Ireland Review, on The Brindled Cat and the Nightingale’s Tongue
'While poetry should always be romantic (there never is a practical reason for the stuff) he always avoided the romanticism of the mushy line and the soft tone and the fuzzy diction. There was always something wire-taut about his work. No floss here.' – Alan Titley, The Irish Times
‘De Paor has for long been a master of the short lyric in which the literal and the figurative combine in a tight nexus of images that distil the character of a particular individual, relationship or encounter. The highly sensuous poems from the early collections set the scene for a body of work where sight and touch and smell are often invoked and where intense moments or intimate states are exposed by flashes of light or by dramatic physical contrast. The collection Rogha Dánta is a rich representation of the work of a poet who is now in his prime and still producing fresh and challenging poems that speak to and across different generations. It is a mark of major achievement and a sign that there is much more to come.’ – Máirín Nic Eoin
Louis de Paor reads in Irish and English
Louis de Paor reads eight poems from The Brindled Cat and the Nightingale's Tongue as well as three newer poems (asterisked here) from his forthcoming collection Crooked Love / Grá fiar in Irish and English: ‘An t-amhránaí’ | ‘The singer’; ‘Báisteach’ | ‘Rain’; ‘Didjeridu’ | ‘Didjeridu’; ‘Idir dhá linn’ | ‘In the meantime’; ‘An cruthaitheoir’ | ‘The creator’;’Cloigíní’ | ‘Bells’*; ‘Luascáin’ | ‘Swings’*; ‘Multi-tasking’ | ‘Multi-tasking’*; ‘Marmalade’ | ‘Marmalade’. Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed him reading his poems in Irish and English at his home in Uachter Ard, Contae na Gaillimhe (Oughterard, Co. Galway), Ireland, in April 2017. He reads first in Irish, then in English, but with longer poems completes his reading of the Irish original at the end of the English translation. The reading is followed by a short interview in English about writing in Irish and the survival of the Irish language.
Louis de Paor live at Ledbury Poetry Festival
Louis de Paor reads and introduces a selection of his poems in Irish and English at Ledbury Poetry Festival on Friday 8th July 2017, when he shared the stage with fellow Irish poets Jane Clarke and Rita Ann Higgins. The poems he reads are from his dual language edition The Brindled Cat and the Nightingale’s Tongue plus new poems. Filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce.
Louis de Paor: 'Didjeridu'
Louis de Paor recites his poem ‘Didjeridu’ accompanied by Kev Carmody on didjeridu in the opening sequence of An Dubh ina Gheal, a documentary by Paula Kehoe broadcast on the Irish-language TV network TG4 on 27 September 2016. In An Dubh ina Gheal he returns to his once adopted homeland to explore the complex relationship between Indigenous Australians and the Irish in Australia. At the heart of this exploration is the story of the Stolen Generations, mixed race children who were taken away from their families under assimilation policies, and an Aboriginal resistance lead by 'Shamrock Aborigines', who saw theirs as a shared struggle against a common oppressor. Weaving social and personal history with poetry, An Dubh ina Gheal reveals the hidden story of the Irish in Australia. His poem ‘Didjeridu’ is included (in Irish and English translation) in both in his collection The Brindled Cat and the Nightingale's Tongue and in his anthology Leabhar na hAthghabhála/Poems of Repossession.
Co-published with Cló Iar-Chonnachta