- because he was my mentor’s mentor.
- because of my MA in Cork.
- because of those legendary two-word titles: Human Chain of course, but also Wintering Out, Field Work, Station Island, Seeing Things, Electric Light, or District & Circle.
- because he was the first Irish poet to name a book after two lines of the London underground.
- because he was also a scholar, well read in Greek and able to translate from Irish, French, or Italian (many wonderful poems in Human Chain are versions: “A Kite”, “A Herbal”) .
- because his is a poetics of place: "Me in place and the place in me."
- because the pen might be stronger than the gun, but only one who actually held both could begin a poem like this: "Between my finger and my thumb / The squat pen rests; snug as a gun."
- because he digs and digs: “Escribir como quien inserta una palanca en la tierra y empieza a mover, con lentitud laboriosa, la gran piedra confusa de las palabras,” dice Doce.
- because in elegies like “Casualty” he makes the walls speak of the Troubles of Northern Ireland: PARAS THIRTEEN / BOGSIDE NIL.
- because of his enduring will to become pure yet fully material verb and "clear light, like poetry or freedom" ("Oysters").
The picture above was taken by a dear friend, the American poet Debra Kang Dean (please do not use it without permission). I met Debra three years before, when I went to Walden to work with his late husband Brad, a great Thoreau scholar. Once we spent hours tracking this quotation: "Some men go fishing all their lives without ever realizing it's not fish they are after." We concluded that Thoreau never wrote it, but si non è vero...