Michael Allen: Close Readings


Fran Brearton (Ed.)

August 2015

Michael Allen was a towering figure in the Northern Irish poetry scene, and a leading critic of modern Irish poetry. This book contains the first publication of his ground-breaking work on Michael Longley, with an Afterword by Edna Longley, and illuminating criticism on the work of major Irish poets – Kavanagh, Longley, MacNeice, Heaney, Mahon, McGuckian and Muldoon.

ISBN: N/A Categories: ,


The late Michael Allen was one of the most authoritative critical voices on poetry in the north of Ireland. Intimately part of the North’s poetic movement since the early 1960s, he taught at Queen’s University where he was a colleague of Seamus Heaney, who affectionately called him ‘the reader over my shoulder’. Allen’s precision and subtlety as a poetry critic makes him a figure of considerable importance in the field of Irish literary criticism, and a vital presence in the cultural and literary life of Northern Ireland.

This collection of Allen’s critical writings on Kavanagh, MacNeice, Heaney, Mahon, McGuckian and Muldoon, also publishes for the first time Allen’s final work, a ground-breaking study of the dynamics of Michael Longley’s extraordinary career. This fittingly completes the special, often surprising, perspective on modern Irish poetry that Allen’s essays collectively constitute, and is indispensable reading for all those interested in the development of Irish poetry.

About the Editor

Fran Brearton is Professor of Modern Poetry at Queen’s University Belfast and Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. She is the author of The Great War in Irish Poetry and Reading Michael Longley.