Paul Perry’s poems often possess a confessional delicacy and apparent simplicity that is rare among Irish male poets. From the publication of his first collection The Drowning of the Saints in 2003 his work has been noted for its dream-like magic and its ‘sense of longing, searching, and questioning’. Of that acclaimed début Fred D’Aguiar writes: ‘Each poem bristles with life and longing, intelligence and wit.’
Paul Perry was born in Dublin in 1972 and lived for several years in the United States, where he studied at Brown University. American experience, both lived and literary, has impacted his work significantly. Reviews of The Orchid Keeper, his acclaimed second collection, drew comparisons not only with W.S. Merwin but with Whitman himself: ‘Like W.S. Merwin, Mr. Perry seems to have a unique talent for closing lines that open numerous possibilities of meaning while suggesting something absolute . . . Throughout the collection, there are multiple examples of dazzling, sonorous lines that demonstrate an impressive understanding of the contours and rhythms of the language’. The American influence was also evidenced in his doctoral work at the University of Ulster on the nomadic imagination in the work of American poet Amy Clampitt.
His third collection The Last Falcon and Small Ordinance, described by Dermot Bolger as ‘the work of a singular imagination’ further stressed his well-travelled sensibility and the cosmopolitan nature of his image base and subject matter. Yet his talent hasn’t lost what might be described as its ‘Irish core’ – his gift for narrative, his keen awareness of things passing, his ability to deploy symbols and objects in the evocation of potent memories.
Among Perry’s credits as editor are The Best of Irish Poetry 2009 and Beyond the Workshop, a a collection of essays on creative writing pedagogy published by Kingston University Press in 2012. His translations of the Lithuanian poet Jurga Ivoanauskaitė were published as 108 Moons: Selected Poems in 2009 by The Workshop Press. He also writes fiction: his story ‘The Judge’ won him the Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year Award and his debut novel, entitled The Innocent Sleep and co-written with Karen Gillece, will be published in 2013.
Perry currently teaches creative writing at both Kingston University, London, and University College, Dublin. He curates DLR Poetry Now, the largest and longest-running international poetry festival in Ireland.
The Drowning of the Saints, Salmon Poetry, The Cliffs of Moher, 2003
The Orchid Keeper, Dedalus Press, Dublin, 2006
The Last Falcon and Small Ordinance, Dedalus Press, Dublin, 2010
108 Moons: The Selected Poems of Jurga Ivanauskaite, The Workshop Press, 2010
Paul Perry at Dedalus Press
Paul Perry’s Website
A film of Perry’s poem ‘Drift’ by Marc Neys