Michael Coady was born in 1939 in Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, where he has lived all his life and where he has worked as a teacher, musician and writer. He has won numerous prizes including the Patrick Kavanagh Award in 1979 for poems for his first collection. Bursaries from the Arts Council have enabled him to travel in the USA and Newfoundland. More recently he has held a residency in the Irish Cultural Centre in Paris. His work is noted for its celebration of place, particularly his home town and the people who live there. It has also been praised for its compassion and for its successful fusion of literary language with the reported demotic of his community.
What is astonishing is that such a singular, original and unfashionable voice should be so widely acknowledged. None of the sexiness of Northern Ireland subject matter, sub-Muldoonesque ironies or New Formalism populates his work. Instead Coady has mined poetic gold from the small, intimate, urban community (surrounded by rural countryside) to which he belongs. In a way, his literary strategy follows that of Patrick Kavanagh in celebrating the local and parochial, but in being town-based rather than field-based he avoids being derivative of that great Irish mid-20th-century bog-and-potato literary vogue. Intimacy is the key word in considering Coady; the intimacy and insularity of the voices he produces to mimic the many characters who inhabit his poems. The main structure of tensions in his work is formed by the juxtaposition of these intimate voices with concern for the public life of the community they share. The celebration by Coady of the small intimate community mirrors the role of the bard in Gaelic Ireland, where the work of a poet was very much a public, community concern.
Two for a Woman, Three for a Man, The Gallery Press, Dublin 1980
Oven Lane, The Gallery Press, Dublin 1987
All Souls, The Gallery Press, Oldcastle 1997
One Another, The Gallery Press, Oldcastle 2003
Full Tide, Relay Books, County Tipperary 1999
Michael Coady’s author page on the Gallery Press website
RTE Radio 1, Poetry Programme. Click on April 25th’s programme for Michael Coady.