Washing Up



"In Mahon's book [Washing Up], wry wisdom and an autumnal tone are governed by a magisterial control of the line and the stanza." — Colm Tóibín, The Irish Times Books of the Year

Since the warm reception of his last volume, Against the Clock, Derek Mahon has continued to produce remarkable work in a variety of modes. These range from convivial celebrations like ‘The Old Place’ and ‘Alone in the Dark’ to the radical politics of ‘A Line of Moore’ and ‘Word to the Wise’, besides a short series — ‘Quarantine’, ‘A Fox in Grafton St.’ — prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic. His many admirers will be pleased to find the well-known verve and stylistic vigour in this new collection, published within weeks of his untimely death in October.

Books of the Year 2020

At the time of his death in October, Derek Mahon was the greatest living writer in English, whose talent had been fostered by the patient dedication of Peter Fallon’s Gallery Press.

— Richard Davenport-Hines, Times Literary Supplement


Heather Clark’s magisterial biography, Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath a dense and hugely significant book; a personal and artistic universe rendered with commitment and sympathy but shunning sentimentality. This is also true of Derek Mahon’s final volume of poetry Washing Up. He would have been eighty next year but his death earlier this year robs us of a truly great poet though the poems will remain as his abiding testament to the power of art to overcome each and every kind of obstacle; a superb collection from one of the modern masters.’

— Gerald Dawe, The Lonely Crowd


. . . This dream-like wonder is an attribute of much of the work published this year. Sadly, we lost the great poets Eavan Boland and Derek Mahon. They wrote until the end, both publishing important posthumous collections. Mahon’s Washing Up (Gallery Press, €12.50pb/€18.50hb) contains poems of the pandemic with Quarantine, and A Fox in Grafton Street and an elegy to Ciaran Carson.

— Paul Perry, Sunday Independent


The deaths of Eavan Boland and Derek Mahon have left a void in the lives of their readers. Both completed a new collection of poetry before they died – Eavan Boland’s is The Historians; Derek Mahon’s is Washing Up – and both books make clear what marvellous poets they are. The first poem in Boland’s book, The Fire Gilder, is one of the best Irish poems of the past half-century. In Mahon’s book, wry wisdom and an autumnal tone are governed by a magisterial control of the line and the stanza.

— Colm Tóibín, The Irish Times


Publication Date: 29 October 2020
Details: 96pp
ISBN PBK: 978 1 91133 790 4
ISBN HBK: 978 1 91133 791 1