A friend in the UK kindly passed along news of the death of poet Michael Donaghy in London at age 50. Well known in England as winner of the Whitbread, Faber, and Forward prizes and as a member of the so-called “New Generation” poets, Donaghy was a past poetry editor of the Chicago Review and published his first book of poetry, Slivers, in Chicago back in 1985. He had lived in London for almost two decades. An obituary appeared in the Independent on Monday. My friend notes that Donaghy was “certainly very well loved over here by fellow-poets (whether formalist or not) and readers alike.”
Here’s a Donaghy poem called “South-Westernmost”:
I’ve a pocketwatch for telling space,
a compass tooled for reckoning by time,
to search this quadrant between six and nine
for traces of her song, her scent, her face.
Come night, that we might seek her there, come soon,
come shade the lower left edge of this chart,
the damaged chamber of my mother’s heart.
Mare Serenitatis on the moon,
this blindspot, tearhaze, cinder in the eye,
this cloudy star when I look left and down,
this corner of the crest without a crown,
this treeless plain where she went home to die.
I can almost hear it now and hold its shape,
the famine song she’s humming in my sleep.