Val Mulkerns obituary

Novelist and poet who became an important female voice in the literary canon of Ireland

Val Mulkerns, who has died aged 93, was a unique figure in the world of Irish literature. Very few women, let alone young ones, played any sort of role in literary, academic or public life in the Ireland of the 1950s, but she thrived and enjoyed success.

Her first novel, A Time Outworn (1951), a tragic love story that deals with issues of the time including partition and the Irish language revival, was published in London when she was 26. From 1952 to 1954 she was an associate editor of the Dublin literary journal the Bell, befriending writers including its founder, Seán O’Faoláin, its then editor, Peadar O’Donnell, and the literary editor David Marcus.

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How did 18th century’s literary women relieve domestic distress? With opiates

It wasn’t just men such as Coleridge and De Quincey who took drugs, study of Mary Robinson and Harriet Martineau reveals

The fantastical poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the scandalous journal of “opium eater” Thomas De Quincey notoriously celebrate the influence of opium. Now, beyond Coleridge’s “caverns measureless to man” and De Quincey’s nightmarish visions, a new academic study is to reveal that many of the female stars of the British literary scene of the late 18th and early 19th centuries were equally dependent on the drug.

“While men like De Quincey and Coleridge were among the first to write openly about opium’s creative effects and so are seen as the originators of the tradition of British drug literature, contemporary women writers tended instead to view it as a comfort, a way of coping with the demands of artistic life,” said Dr Joseph Crawford, a senior ...

Sir Wilson Harris obituary

Writer and leading figure in postcolonial literature whose work was inspired by Guyana, the place of his birth

Sir Wilson Harris, who has died aged 96, was a towering figure among the writers of the Caribbean and Central America. Concerned with the human condition, in particular with the marginalised, Harris sought a revolution in form as well as approach. The writing style he developed succeeded in conveying what William Blake called “fourfold vision”: grounded in the real world, transformed by metaphor, cultivating empathy, and having a universal perspective.

It was while working as a surveyor in Guyana in the 1950s, discovering the enigmatic silences of remnant Amerindian cultures and the haunting landscapes of the rainforests, that Harris pioneered his individual and expressive voice, first revealed in poems published in Georgetown in the magazine Kyk-Over-Al and later in a privately printed collection, Eternity to Season (1954).

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Afterglow: A Dog Memoir by Eileen Myles review – for the love of dog

An elegy for a lost pet by a rock star of the spoken word takes in love, death and animal vision

Eileen Myles is a New York poet, maybe the New York poet, a swaggering troubadour of casually roving brilliance. Born in 1949, a third-generation participant in the New York School of Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery, they (“they” is Myles’s preferred pronoun) have written more than 20 books, which rollick between novel, memoir, poetry and art criticism. Like I Love Dick, by Myles’s friend Chris Kraus, these loping experiments in autofiction have hit new audiences in the last few years. Myles’s 1994 non-fiction novel Chelsea Girls was republished in 2015 to ecstatic reviews and round-the-block queues at readings. That same winter, the television series Transparent featured a lesbian poet modelled on the author. “My shirts are tighter,” Myles observed.

Afterglow is Myles’s dog book, a work of ...

MAR Taleghany obituary

My father, MAR Taleghany, who has died aged 82, was a professor of law and a renowned scholar of the work of the 13th-century Persian Sunni Muslim poet, theologian and mystic Rumi. He could recite Rumi’s complete works from memory, and gave lectures and life lessons from Rumi at universities and retreats around the world.

My father expressed the view that “mysticism frees you from all rules so you can be at peace”. He especially believed in the wheel of life continuously turning – “Each time I die, I move up a little. This life is not the end of the game ” – and the idea that life is a circle, so that “part of humanity is elevating all the time”.

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