The Later Poetry Of Barry MacSweeney and the Demons of Influence (2013)

Author(s): Herbert WN

    Abstract: Barry MacSweeney's last books, especially The Book of Demons (Bloodaxe 1997), offers a final uneasy reconciliation of the conflict between influences which had raged throughout his career. This essay argues that a conflict between poetic voices and personae is the defining characteristic of MacSweeney's work. After the populist period of the 1960s, and the extreme experimentation of the 1970s, MacSweeney began in the 1980s to engage specifically with the influence of Basil Bunting. These very diverse influences produced in the late work a unique fusion of experimental and more mainstream aspects. It concludes that this work, at once fractured and transcending its origins, constitutes his most distinctive contribution to modern British poetry.

      • Book Title: Reading Barry MacSweeney
      • Publisher: Bloodaxe
      • Publication type: Book chapter
      • Bibliographic status: In Press

      Keywords: Barry MacSweeney; poetry; criticism; influence; voice; form


      Professor Bill Herbert
      Professor of Poetry & Creative Writing