Cathal Ó Searcaigh is a leading figure in the remarkable renaissance of Irish-language poetry in our time. Over the past four decades, he has made an enormous contribution to the range and corpus of Gaelic verse. In his wide-ranging work – from the intimacies of the Donegal Gaeltacht to the far reaches of the American West – the old and the new are in triumphant synthesis.
This extensive selection of poems from 17 collections, in a dual-language format, brings to the attention of an even wider public the heady abundance of a truly audacious talent. Ranging from the occupation of Palestine to human-earth relations, it is a book that gives credence to the idea of one borderless and unbounded creation.
Crann na Teanga/The Language Tree is a collection that enriches our understanding of the turbulent times we live in. In this long “life in poetry” (books from 1975 to the present), Ó Searcaigh is lifted emotionally and imaginatively beyond his own life into the life of all, into our common cosmic existence.
Translated by the distinguished bilingual poet Paddy Bushe – one of the most talented translators of contemporary Gaelic poetry – this volume deploys the full range of an interpreter’s brilliance to render Ó Searcaigh’s work into faithful but fully-realised English language poems.
Ó Searcaigh’s transgressive and liberating writing crosses a clutch of borders and boundaries, loosening the Irish tongue into newly modern directions – and so setting it free to speak up, and sing out, “on the side of light, on the side of life” (Frank Sewell).
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