The Gallery Press are helping one of the grand old poets of Ireland celebrate and commemorate his eightieth birthday with a fine collection of poems – At least For A While. Pearse Hutchinson was born in Glasgow of Irish parents and moved to Dublin in 1932 and his life and poetry are part of the unwritten literary history of making a place for poets and poetry in strange and difficult times. The opening poem sets the tone in In The Front Bar; where six people are drinking black pints and the toast is – We should all live to be eighty.
Hutchinson’s eye for simple beauty has not dimmed under his white hair and monk black beret; dandelions and magpies signify April, with dandelions bright in the proud earth each one matching the sun and a magpie waddling aldermanly (it is the use of “aldermanly” that sets the poem apart). In case any reader might doubt how contemporary the work is, you only have to read Senhor Mascarenhas and the generosity among the seven hills of Lisbon.
There is a generous resonance in the title and at least for a while, young and impecunious poets are helped and encouraged. In A Full-length Portrait you experience a sunburst in the dark circumscribed forties with a glorious vividness.
In A Bowl Of Red Cherries, you can feel that same vividness blaze across a lifetime. More than a few poems reflect on varying aspects of Europe and Hutchinson travels light and makes his connections easy and his personality encouraged many a young writer to follow the wanderlust, follow the words and know that the vast word ‘happiness’ was not, after all, outrageous.
Back in the heady seventies, I met Pearse Hutchinson at a reading in Brown Thomas in Dublin and his gentle encouragement to me then has stayed with me and although it has been a long while his words still encourage and resonate.
Long life Pearse, long may you continue to write so immediately.