Spanish Points: A Bilingual Anthology of Poems by John Liddy

John Liddy
John Liddy

An Irish Poet in Madrid

  • Por John Liddy

miércoles 21 de febrero de 2024, 22:12h

21FEB24 – MADRID.- As an Irish poet who has been living and writing in Madrid for the last four decades, I felt dutybound to compile a book of poems that would reflect my relationship with the diversity of Spain, its landscape and its people. The result of this endeavour is Spanish Points, a collection of my Spain-related poems chosen by me from nine books published between 1990 and 2020, together with a selection of recent unpublished poems.

Overseeing the Spanish translations with my brother Liam, I had the help of Louis Bourne (RIP), Clara Janés, Germán Asensio, Ian Dornan, Trudi Kiebala (RIP), Miguel Ortega and Pilar and Mila Gutiérrez, who made valuable corrections and suggestions.

There is a village in County Clare, on the west coast of Ireland, called Spanish Point, not far from Limerick, where I grew up. As a child we spent summer holidays there and, apart from its scenic beauty, it has strong links with Spain and in particular with The Spanish Armada. The Spanish King and Queen visited the area in 1986 along with the President of Ireland Patrick Hillary, to unveil a plaque to the memory of those Armada sailors who died in two shipwrecks off the coast of Clare. The local hotel, The Armada, boasts of much memorabilia related to this historic event.

These anecdotal links between Ireland and Spain, along with our shared cultural, poetical and political connections, over the centuries, pushed me to compile the manuscript Spanish Points. I did so as an Irish poet living in Spain.

So, without further ado, I’ll leave the closing words to some Spanish poets and writers who are familiar with my work and, in particular, with the manuscript in question.

The poem MADRID is very beautiful and denotes more love towards my city than those of us who were born here. Epical mixtures of tastes with an eye for the local and the proximate: a mixture difficult to achieve and, curiously, with Joycean undertones. Javier Reverte

With John Liddy the golden rule of extraterritoriality is confirmed. Zalín de Luis

When I met John Liddy, when I heard him recite his verses, one far-away Mediterranean night, I felt that commotion that a poet feels when he recognizes another true poet. José María Álvarez

His pioneering bi-national poetry stands as a lucid example of cultural blending. Liddy harbors the essence of two countries and amasses the national riches of both, multiplying but never subduing. His words, in that they are written in one language or the other, are national but the underlying message is unequivocally universal. Beatriz Villacañas

It could almost be said that this book, Spanish Points, speaks of "points", of spaces, yes, but also of times, and that it is a kind of diary where, in addition to the two cultures, and the painting of the two places – Ireland and Spain-, the events of the mind are mixed: erudition, memory, daily life and its transformation into attenuated surrealist poetic images and suggestions, without being violent so that they remain normal. Clara Janés

Hopefully, in the manner of the well-known poem Roísín Dubh (1600s), my wish for Spanish Points to see the light of day could be summed up as follows: Is ní spárailfear fíon Spáinneach ar mo Roísín Dubh/And we won’t spare the Spanish wine for my Little Dark Rose.


John Liddy, born Youghal, County Cork, grew up in Limerick, took a degree with The University of Wales, lives in Madrid where he worked as a Teacher/Librarian. Between the publication of Boundaries (1974) and Arias of Consolation (2021/22) he has published twelve poetry books, a collection of stories for children Cuentos Cortos en Ingles: Los Sonidos de los Vocales (2011); edited with Dominic Taylor 1916-2016 An Anthology of Reactions and 1919-2019 An Anthology Commemorating the Limerick Soviet 1919 Let Us Rise. Liddy has also translated poems to and from English, Irish, Spanish and edited a special edition of Vietnamese poets for The Café Review. He is currently editing a special issue of Irish language poets to appear with poets from Macao, China for The Hong Kong Review, of which he is a board member. He has recently completed a collection of short stories with his brother Liam and is awaiting publication of Slipstreaming in the West of Ireland, cowritten with Jim Burke, and Spanish Points, a collection of all his Spain-related poems.

Enviado por José Antonio Sierra

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