Anthony Glavin

1945-2006; b. 7 Aug., 1945, Dublin; son of a War of Independence veteran and later Comhlucht Siúicra Éireann exec.; ed. O’Connell Schools, NCR, Dublin, ed. Royal Irish Academy of Music; entered UCD 1962; served as Auditor of the L & H, and figured as a brilliant speaker; participated in UCD Dram. Soc.; contrib. to Irish Poets 1924-74, ed. David Marcus; appt. lecturer at the RIAM, 1969, and afterwards Professor; won the Patrick Kavanagh Award, 1987; contrib. to Poetry Ireland Review; issued The Wrong Side of the Alps (1989), from Gallery Press; received Arts Council Bursary; suffered increasingly from emphysema; d. 14 Nov. 2006.

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The Wrong Side of the Alps (Dublin: Gallery Press 1989), 51pp.

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Mark Granier, ‘A Mentor: Anthony Glavin’, at Anthony Wilson Poetry (26 Feb. 2016) - online; [with quotations, as below]. Note that Granier’s article contains a poem of his own in memoriam Anthony Glavin.

 Anthony had the quickest mind of anyone I’ve ever known and an impatience to match. I can think of no one who would suffer fools less. But, even at his most argumentative, he was invigorating, and there was always the possibility of some minor revelation, the chance that this time we might have what he called (paraphrasing Beckett’s Estragon) “a nice little canter”. I miss these. I also miss his warmth, humour and fierce loyalty. Anthony was an hour-of-the-wolf friend, someone you could call at three or four in the morning, whether you were in serious trouble or merely feeling troubled.
 He was 42 when The Wrong Side of the Alps was published. To quote from Fred Johnston’s Books Ireland review in 1990, the book contains many “fine, meticulous” poems, “a distinct and sometimes ominous music”, “a profoundly Hibernian appetite for dark laughter.” It closes with the first three sections of an ambitious sequence of quatrains, titled “Living In Hiroshima”, first published in New Irish Writing in The Irish Press. Anthony was haunted by the fact that his birth-date, the 7th of August 1945 (a Bank Holiday in Ireland), was just one day after Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima, that his coming into the world had coincided with an event that abruptly altered the world’s “historical velocity.” As the title of the first poem in the sequence (taken from a Time article in 1985) puts it: “Everybody lives in Hiroshima.”
 Though the sequence includes much about the actual explosion and its after-effects (all diligently researched), it also encompasses many other fragments and notations from 20th Century history: Nazi and Japanese war crimes, statements by politicians, scientists, writers and artists; also incidents from Anthony’s personal history, such as his “push for freedom” on that particular Bank Holiday weekend, or his love life, travels and self-critical wrestling with words, meanings and the nature of conscience. There are moments of bleak self-scrutiny, delighted epiphany, wrenching horror and Cimmerian humour, all of them referencing and calling to each other as much as to what lies at the radiant hub of the sequence. This is part of the rhythm of “Living In Hiroshima”; each quatrain, however self-contained, affects and is affected by that blinding spot at the centre.
 The completed sequence, had he ever finished it, might have contained 250 of these “hironyms”, making 1000 lines in all. That was one plan anyway, inspired by the Japanese paper crane ceremony, in which the act of folding 1000 origami paper cranes may touch (or save) one human soul.
[...; cont.]
Source: Anthony Wilson Poetry (26 Feb. 2016) - online; link copied to Facebook by the author [2.02.2016].


Poems: A Selection - being 4 poems from the “Living In Hiroshima” sequence in The Wrong Side of the Alps (Gallery Press 1989) and another from a published pamphlet, with others from manuscripts edited by Mark Granier in ‘A Mentor: Anthony Glavin’ [guest blog post], at Anthony Wilson Poetry (26 Feb. 2016) and copied to Facebook - online [2.02.2016].


8.16 a.m.
A fleeing Nazi skis across an Alpine glacier.
Pope Pius XII bows low to intone the Agnus Dei.

Heartbeats. Lifetimes. Seconds ticking away.
The sky blurts open like a Morning Glory.

‘I can taste the brilliance.’ ‘What a relief it worked!’
‘It’s like the ring around some distant planet

Detached itself and coming straight back up at us...’
‘Pretty terrific!’ Look at that son-of-a-bitch go!’

Thunder like Mt. Fuji swallowing itself alive.
A bicycle sagged and melted in its own shadow.

Stones bled. Birds fell roasted out of the sky.
We just stood there, helpless. You can’t hate magic.

Even then I must have raged at being confined.
But to push for freedom that Bank Holiday weekend!

My father homing from Youghal in his chrome V8
To hold my mother, then me, then celebrate ...

Holds open the guestroom door we couldn’t close
The whole high summer we lip-read through at body-heat

Counting on one another’s heartbeat
And not making love because the noise, the noise...

‘I am God!’ ‘I am Goya!’ ‘I am an earthquake!’
Alexander Scriabin. Yuri Yevtushenko. Vaslav Nijinski.

What is it about these people, these artistes,
That they cannot be themselves?

On the Terrace with the Fuhrer. Wonderfully relaxed
And liberated. I am so thankful and happy

To hear him enthuse about the great, great future.
The sun has broken through again. Hitler-weather.

Sometimes we wonder about the factories —
Evenings the wind is wrong and the lindens toss

A drizzle of soot and ash all over the magnolias,
We cannot meet each other’s eyes.

It was my first insult from an unreconstructed Nazi
Lathering to absolve some awful wickedness of the night before,

He mouthed it to my face, craven in the bathroom mirror —
‘A nasty little word-mad definition of complicity.’

Willy Brandt fell
To his knees, head bowed —

‘I simply did
What people do when words fail.’

Leaps past Triton at 17 miles a second —
Wolf-howl, birth-cry, greetings from a one-time Nazi

Packed in a space the size of the human psyche,
Headlong to the limits, a feeler, beyond the beyond.

the same river never the same
river ever the same river

never the same river ever
the same river never the same

So distant the Antarctic slippage
Capsizing ocean

And that soft sighing you hear as an
Albatross, winging it, somewhere, at the very edge —

It was said a thousand cranes made of
Hand-folded paper would be enough

To save a life.
Some days you wouldn’t know what to believe.

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Gerald Dawe, ed., Earth Voices Whispering: An Anthology of Irish War Poetry 1914-1945, ed. Gerald Dawe (Belfast: Blackstaff Press 2008), p.379-91, gives “Oblivion’s Throe” and “Ions” from Living in Hiroshima” in The Wrong Side of the Alps (1989).

See also Mark Granier, ‘A Mentor: Anthony Glavin’ [guest blog post], at Anthony Wilson Poetry (26 Feb. 2016) - online [with quotations, as above].

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Namesake: Not to be confused with Anthony Glavin [as infra].

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