93pp. Gallery Press. 18.50 [euro]
(paperback 12.50 [euro]
DEREK MAHON DIED ON OCTOBER 1, 2020. Washing Up, which was published a few weeks later, is his final book of poems. When I began reading Mahon's work in the early 1990s, he was already said to be "washed up". Little of his work had been published since The Hunt by Night (1982). Soon, however, came The Hudson Letter (1995) and The Yellow Book (1997), long poems in heroic couplets that extended the range of the verse-letters which had appeared in previous collections. There is a lot of this work and opinion is divided as to its quality. Hugh Haughton has written well about it, but John Redmond, in an article on those earlier epistolary poems, remarked that "when he is writing his verse-letters Mahon is writing against the best part of his poetic nature". These are works in which he does not successfully deal with "the...