Irish Literary Society: Autumn Journal / Spring Journal

Interviews, News

Louis MacNeice’s ‘Autumn Journal’, written August to December 1938, was an immediate personal response to the public events of those months and the mood on the streets. ‘It is the nature of this poem,’ a prefatory note declared, ‘to be neither final nor balanced.’ In ‘Spring Journal’, written between March and late August 2020, the novelist Jonathan Gibbs replies to MacNeice and redeploys his form in an urgent, fluent act of witness to the events of this Covid year. Angry, desperately sad, self-aware, sceptical about what writing is for, the book is both a week-by-week record and something ‘carved from chaos’.

Lucy Caldwell joins David Collard, Jonathan Gibbs and Michael Hughes to reflect on the making, the form (‘elastic quatrains’ in cantos) and context (WWII, COVID-19) of both poems.