Dennis O’Driscoll

Dennis O’Driscoll works for Customs in Dublin. His fifth volume of poems, Weather Permitting, was a Poetry Book Society recommendation.

Dome Laureate: Simon Armitage

Dennis O’Driscoll, 27 April 2000

Simon Armitage likes to have it both ways. He is the streetwise poet who is at home in a Radio 1 studio; but he is also the ambitious literary figure who aspires to ‘nothing less’ than a Nobel Prize. He is at ease with youth culture (‘I didn’t have a classical education of any type, so I tend to use characters from popular culture’), yet, far from stoking rebellion, he writes tenderly of his parents and looks up to Ted Hughes and W.H. Auden. Asked to nominate his Book of the Century last year, he plumped for Waiting for Godot. The idea of Armitage in Beckettian exile, refusing to grant media interviews, is about as plausible as ‘Chaucer at his laptop,/auto-checking his screenplay proposal for spelling and style’ or ‘Shakespeare making/an arse of himself for Children in Need or Sesame Street’, two of the scenarios conjured up in Killing Time (a long poem that is calculated to appeal to a literary audience without alienating those for whom Shakespeare and Chaucer are just heavyweight names in a pub quiz).

Poem: ‘Not Yourself’

Dennis O’Driscoll, 16 March 2000

Monday, you take the accordion out of its case in rain,                                              begin to busk. Tuesday, you complain that the raito sauce with your...

It must feel odd – and more than a bit unsettling – to realise that sooner or later, perhaps in your lifetime, somebody will write your biography. Biographers can get lives badly...

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