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Wake Forest University Press has recently released the American edition of Louis MacNeice‘s Collected Poems. MacNeice’s poetry is experiencing something a renaissance, after spending several decades in the shadow of W. H. Auden. As New York Times poetry critic David Orr observed in his review of this new collected edition,
[MacNeice’s] reputation has been steadily rising for 20 years in Britain and Ireland, in part because of vigorous support from Irish writers like Edna Longley, Paul Muldoon and Derek Mahon. MacNeice’s “Collected Poems” has finally been published in the United States, where readers will now have a chance to approach this underestimated writer on his own terms.
ZSR Special Collections holds a large collection of MacNeice first editions, including Blind Fireworks (pictured above), his first published volume of poetry. MacNeice was newly graduated from Merton College, Oxford when Blind Fireworks appeared. In his foreword the young poet explains that
I have always admired the Chinese because they invented gunpowder only to make fireworks with it. I have called this collection Blind Fireworks because they are artificial and yet random; because they go quickly through their antics against an important background, and fall and go out quickly.
MacNeice’s future career proved anything but a flash in the pan: he went on to publish over 50 volumes of poetry, plays, and criticism. ZSR Special Collections’ Louis MacNeice collection is a part of our extensive holdings in 20th century English and Irish poetry.