I've a sense of having been caught napping in class. Just read some old digests and came across this invitation to pipe up . . .
I must have bored just about everyone with my account of the impact of NH 96 on me by now, but here goes again, briefly . . .
Only one of the Irish contingent in NH I'd previously met, and he (whom I'll leave nameless) evidently felt very out of place there. So, not only did I meet Geoff Squires for the first time (despite having published him nearly 20 years earlier), but also assorted Mills, Walshs, Scullys & Healys. All one hell of a pleasant surprise to me. I'd thought I was the only eccentric this side of the water. Met Tom Raworth, too, a happy retrieve from the diaspora.
I was pig ignorant about British developments also until NH, but a few drinks with cris, Keith and Allen Fisher sorted me out there.
Other side of the coin was that nobody in the UK or US seemed ever to have heard of me either, so I reckoned we were quits. Amazing how the less classifiable work of the 60s and 70s had been tidied out of the record, along with the publishing outlets which supported them, leaving later researchers at the mercy of some egregious claims by later (largely self-)promoters to be the first press/poet/critic in Ireland to do x, y or z. Understandably, when the record in Ireland was so thoroughly obscured, the facts were unavailable to interested parties further afield. And more power to those assorted Mills, Walshs, Scullys & Healys to have restarted the process again, pretty well from scratch, writing and disseminating poetry and ideas outside the stifling Irish norms, networking with UK and US contacts as we in the 60s/70s had never bothered to do. The one lasting landmark amidst so much lingering twilight was Brian Coffey, though the fact that he lived in England rather than in this mire probably helped.
NH 66 got me right between the eyes, and I gather I wasn't alone in that. After some hours getting hooched in Logan airport - with Nate, among others - Randolph Healy and myself shared adjoining seats in the plane coming home. Our non-stop conversation, fuelled by airline champagne may not have been particularly deep, since, as I've only recently discovered, he was starting to write Arbor Vitae in his head. That's okay with me: I was starting on Syzygy.
Robert Sheppard wrote:
A short reply to Billy: Like Ric I was aware of the Irish work (I published Catherine Walsh in Pages, for instance, saw both of you read at SubVoicive, etc.) and corresponded with a number of poets in the mid 80s. Then I lost contact.
Billy is probabaly right to speak rather of a US UK awareness of this work arising at the New Hampshire conference. It was illuminating to see these poets (some of whom were often vague names, some unknown) recentreing thier diaspora in the USA.
One thought: I've always noted how Gilbert Adair seldom gets mentioned in an Irish context.
I wasn't necessarily thinking of an American influence on this work, but that is an interesting proposition and I too wait for Trevor and Randolph to reply. (Perhaps like me they have little time.)
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