Collected Poems of John Hewitt

John Hewitt, Author
John Hewitt, Author Blackstaff Press $52.95 (782p) ISBN 978-0-85640-459-7
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This volume makes available all of the published--and many of the previously unpublished--poems of Hewitt (1907-1987), a Northern Irish poet whose name is less well-known in the U.S. than those of a whole generation of poets to whom he served as mentor. For a writer who adopted a ``regionalist'' outlook, his work is encyclopedic, though the natural environment and social climate of Northern Ireland are always the bedrock. In poems such as ``The Glens,'' the simple love of the land and the complexities of sectarian conflict emerge: ``I cannot spare more than a common phrase / of crops and weather when I pace these lanes / and pause at hedge gap spying on their skill, / so many fences stretch between our minds.'' While Hewitt's political poetry can be dogmatic and monochromatic, poems such as ``Bogside, Derry, 1971,'' probe a deeper spiritual level, ``the slights, the wrongs, / the long indignities / the stubborn core within each heart defies.'' And as a poet of memory--of the personal--he can be very moving. Hewitt's era and philosophy led him to tie his poetry to his own ``small region limited / in space by sea, in the time by my own dead,'' but this is a courageous stance, for which he deserves to be read not as father figure but in his own right. Ormsby ( A Storm of Candles ) teaches at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. (May)
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