Thomas MacGreevy and the Rise of the Irish Avant-Garde: Timely and succinct

Book Review: Francis Hutton-Williams has produced a valuable and coherent study of this fascinating period in Ireland

 Thomas MacGreevy, a founder member of the Arts Council, and  Nora Niland, the curator of the Sligo Museum, with a self-portrait in oils by John Butler Yeats. Photograph: Gordon Standing / The Irish Times

Thomas MacGreevy, a founder member of the Arts Council, and Nora Niland, the curator of the Sligo Museum, with a self-portrait in oils by John Butler Yeats. Photograph: Gordon Standing / The Irish Times

There is something perplexing about the fate of the poet, art curator and first World War veteran Kerry-born Thomas MacGreevy because as with several other poets of his generation, while his poems survive in various anthologies and studies of 20th century Irish poetry, they are generally unavailable in book form.

Since the 1991 edition of his Collected Poems, edited by Susan Schreibman, who also edited an important critical reappraisal, The Life and Work of Thomas MacGreevy in 2013, MacGreevy’s poems, like much of his published prose, can only be accessed through the library or second-hand. And yet his name and influence over 50 years since his death in 1967, remains front and central when the conditions, lifestyles and histories of a number of Irish poets, artists and intellectuals, loosely described as modernists, are brought into critical focus.

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