Today I am looking at the London rain and crying over the loss of Derek Mahon, who has died at the age of 78.
Mahon meant as much to me as Heaney, if not more. He was a wry and delicate poet, a great stylist who could make a photograph in your mind or share a personal event and radiate it outwards to larger meanings. I have been reading him for decades and I cannot believe he is gone. So many of his poems are close to my heart.
I would have a hard time choosing a single favourite poem by Mahon - so many come to mind, including 'Courtyards in Delft', 'A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford', 'The Chinese Restaurant in Portrush', 'Dog Days' - the list is long.
One of my strongest contenders, however, is 'Kinsale' - a perfect short poem which captures a place, a mood, and optimism in the face of Ireland's difficult histories.
Here is a video recording of 'Kinsale' released just a few weeks ago, read by Tony O'Donoghue and produced by Made to Measure Films Kinsale. I love this poem dearly and think of it often. https://www.kinsale.ie/2020/08/13/famous-poets-words-inspire-new-film-about-kinsale-and-national-recovery/
There is an excellent obituary here from the Irish Times: https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/derek-mahon-one-of-ireland-s-leading-poets-has-died-aged-78-1.4370324
I will always miss Derek Mahon.
Photo: Derek Mahon in Moscow, 2010. Photo by Marina Masinova. Used under Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 4.0