Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dedalus Profiles: John Jordan

Among titles scheduled for Spring 2007, Dedalus Press is pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of Selected Poems by John Jordan.

John Jordan (1930-88), poet and story writer, actor, broadcaster, critic, and academic at University College, Dublin, was a leading light in the literary life of Dublin from the 1950s until his death in Cardiff in June 1988. A close friend of the poet Patrick Kavanagh and of the novelist Kate O’Brien, he edited the seminal Sixties magazine Poetry Ireland and was the founding editor in the early 1980s of its successor, Poetry Ireland Review. His collected works, including Crystal Clear: Selected Prose (Lilliput Press, 2006), have been edited by poet and critic Hugh McFadden.


To Ms Mae West on Her 85th

What right have you?
Did you pat your platinum alps
When across the electric wire
The thrilling message came
That the pelvic muscles were tranquillized
The gluteal shivers forever fridged
That in fact (O lamentable extinction!)
Elvis had gone pop.

Or did you cable another Cadillac
To some lucky mother-doll of Christ’s
Or over caskets run your pensive eye,
Golden, placid, lined with peachy silk,
And have your self re-measured
For the last tango with the beautician
Who’ll set all curves in proper mould,
The plastic dugs on top?

I weep not for the ‘King’: he wasn’t my type.
(Well, give him some pink, false roses.)
But you, old-timer, had better go West
While the pickings (pan me a nugget, Beulah)
Are ripe. The blue jeans of yesteryear
Might yet reverence your mummy,
And e’en their grassed spawn be mesmerized.

[Vallodolid, 17 August 1977]


“John Jordan was conscious of the general sense of malaise that pervaded post-war Europe. Some of the poems from the 1960s and ‘70s come close to expressing a sense of weltschmerz [world-pain]… (others) are poems of pity and terror, and are truly haunting reflections on the nature of suffering, the mystery at the heart of forgiveness, and the question of redemption.”
—Hugh McFadden, from the Introduction.

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