‘Some four years after his passing, [Dermot Healy’s] five published collections are brought together in a handsome, and essential collected edition… In his brilliant, profound, and enduring poems, years after his sudden death, and ‘with the spit of rain’ on his breath, we can hear, in Collected Poems, Dermot Healy’s distinctly Irish voice again. A poet not just for poets, a writer not just for writers, but a voice for everyone.’ — Paul Perry, Sunday Independent
The shovels / work like oars
rowing the dead man / from this world
to the next.
Though Dermot Healy’s first collection, The Ballyconnell Colours, appeared in 1992 his first poems dated from twenty years earlier and were published and singled out for praise by Seamus Heaney.
In ‘The Off-button’ he writes, ‘the ordinary . . . I understand’ and his plainsong distilled ordinary experience — existence, resilience, moments of tenderness and absurdity.
For him the whole world was a neighbourhood and his engagement with it — its people, places, flora, fauna, weathers and oceans — prompted moments of epiphany. A true original, his lyric poems have moved, intrigued and entertained readers and listeners. Collected Poems is a harvest of almost half a century’s remarkable work — a book rich in imaginative reach and empathy.
‘Healy will be remembered for his great novel A Goat’s Song, but this Collected Poems will do more than appeal to that book’s readers, and leaves its over-sized footprint in the world of contemporary Irish poetry. — John McAuliffe, The Irish Times