ANDREW FITZSIMONS is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin. He is currently an Associate Professor at Gakushuin University, Tokyo.
Considered to be one of the most inventive of the contemporary Irish poets, Thomas Kinsella is credited with bringing modernism to Irish verse. Kinsella uses sensitive language to deal with primal aspects of the human experience. His early writing, "Poems" (1956) and "Another September" (1958) established him as a new voice in Irish poetry. The peak of Kinsella's success came with the founding of the Peppercanister Press and the publication of "Butcher's Dozen" in 1972.Despite such early successes, however, Kinsella seems to have faded into the background of the Irish poetic stage. In "The Sea of Disappointment", Andrew Fitzsimons offers us a chronological journey through the structural and thematic development of Kinsella's poetic writing.Fitzsimons demonstrates that Kinsella has had a career that has risen to a high public profile where he followed conventional stanzaic forms, to a position where he began to reject inherited forms and thus began a gradual critical disengagement from his work. We see in the early chapters that isolation, quintessentially part of the modern condition, is a theme that is regularly touched upon by the poet and further developed in relation to the Irish condition. Disappointment also pervades Kinsella's poetry. Although Fitzsimons emphasises the importance of the context of Kinsella's dismal upbringing in 1940s/50s Ireland, he avoids reducing his poetry down to a mere response to the poet's social and historical background, and thus he manages to maintain a sense of the irreducible integrity of his poetry.This well-researched and comprehensive book draws on illuminating manuscript sources and previously unpublished material as well as on Kinsella's own assistance. Considering Kinsella's work from its beginnings until his most recent publications Fitzsimons shows that his poetry is driven, despite the apparent rift between its early and late styles, by a consistent impulse and deliberate aesthetic of growth. "The Sea of Disappointment" will offer a fresh insight into the poetic work of one of the most innovative poets of contemporary Ireland.
- the border marches / Of the Real
Alone we make symbols of love
Futility flogs a tambourine
I think this is the Sea of Disappointment
The beginning / must be inward. Turn inward
And I always remembered / who and what I am
"Andrew Fitzsimons [has] been helped by the poet himself, but [has] also rummaged through the trove at Emory to great effect. The result is [a] highly informative book with which to celebrate the poet’s 80th birthday year … academic in style… [Fitzsimons] mak[es great] use of the drafts and notes, digging rather [deep] … [He] is especially good on the effect of Kinsella’s education on the work he chose for himself as poet."
Irish Times June 21, 2008
"[a] multifarious work [by] an associate professor of Gakushuin University, Tokyo, analyses the poet’s work and career. He considers in detail his poetic output and how it has developed throughout the years. He looks at his work in the context of the social and cultural trends of the time. He acknowledges that Kinsella’s hard childhood in the 1940s and 1950s influenced his outlook on life but refuses to let this be the beginning and end of his world view. As the title would suggest, Fitzsimons concludes that Kinsella’s poetic life is marked by disappointment, not just in the sense of how his work has been received by the reading public but in what the poet himself hoped to achieve."
'The Sea of Disappointment: Thomas Kinsella’s Pursuit of the Real by Andrew Fitzsimons … is a speculative study that explores the formal, structural and thematic transformations in Kinsella’s oeuvre making consistent use of archival materials. … Fitzsimons employ’s Oscar Milosz’s phrase 'pursuit of the Real' to outline Kinsella’s gradual but drastic change from the poems shaped in traditional forms in the late 1950s, to those voiced in looser forms in the early 1970s. … In his textual examinations Fitzsimons makes extensive use of Kinsella’s unpublished manuscripts and notes collected in the library of Emory University [and] successfully manages to clarify the complex origins of the poet’s 'disappointment'. It is thought-provoking to read the pages where Dublin lore and recondite information about Kinsella’s family are intertwined in the analysis of the poem. As is pointed out in the preface, "Kinsella’s work awaits a myriad of theoretical approaches", and for such approaches, the present book provides a solid foundation.'
Nobuaki Tochigi, Waseda University
Journal of Irish Studies 2008 vol. XXIII
'With his probing and well-supported readings of key poems from across the oeuvre, Fitzsimons corrects reductive readings and too-simplistic narratives of the poet’s development. Importantly, he illuminates how, contrary to established views, Kinsella was from the first frustrated by traditional formal procedures, and Fitzsimons charts his gradual move into a more organic, though no less crafted, sense of poetic form. … Fitzsimons makes excellent use of the insights of other critics, and engages with and extends the key critical debates over Kinsella’s work, arguing back to some of Kinsella’s most audible detractors, such as Edna Longley. He too has done his homework when it comes to the political, social and cultural contexts, out of which Kinsella’s poetry of disappointment is shaped. Fitzsimons’s exemplary study must now be built on – there is much more to be said about this major Irish poet – and Kinsella’s extensive poetics must continue to be examined.'
The Year’s Work in English Studies (2010)
'Fitzsimons provides astute and informed readings of Kinsella’s poetry, underpinned by an extensive knowledge of the socio-historical context and grounded in a perceptive exploration of the Thomas Kinsella papers held at Emory University. Fitzsimons’ arguments are clearly and persuasively made. He has a firm grasp of extant Kinsella criticism and builds on this to construct attentive readings of Kinsella’s poetry. Kinsella write of his own work that 'the care in this art is less to reenact a process, than to arrange that everything of significance is presented at one at the crucial moment of understanding'. The Sea of Disappointment: Thomas Kinsella’s Pursuit of the Real is a vital and important addition to scholarship on Thomas Kinsella, and gives us a real insight into that 'crucial moment of understanding'.'
Review of English Studies 63 (258) 2012
'Fitzsimons … makes excellent use of the relationship among different forms of his [Kinsella’s] writing, from manuscript poems to published lectures, and he includes here illuminating notes and comments from the archive of Kinsella’s papers at Emory University. His integration of fragments from Kinsella’s research notes and from his reflections on his own writing marks a new and important approach to difficult texts. … The synthesis of ideas and formal mechanisms lies at the heart of this study, and this critic’s attention to the detailed interconnection of all of Thomas Kinsella’s work is exemplary. It is in the perceptive unravelling of these threads that a new fabric of reading can emerge.'
Irish University Review 17 (3) 2009