IRELAND'S 'unofficial' poet laureate, Paul Durcan, has leapt to the defence of President and fellow poet Michael D Higgins.
"He has an absolute commitment to the spirit of poetry, which is inseperable from his worldly outlook, and his political outlook, with its origins in a vision of radical socialism and the dignity of the human spirit.
"Many of us, as poets, have been trying for 45 years to achieve this quality, but he has had it from the start," said Durcan yesterday in the wake of critic Professor Kevin Kiely calling the President's recent volume of verses "a crime against literature".
"He has no competence to talk or write about poetry at any level, and all of us in the poetic community know that," said Durcan yesterday. "Since the 1980s he has been writing rubbish about poetry."
Prof Kiely, who was recently appointed Professor of Irish Literature at Boise State University, Idaho, in the United States, wrote a scathing attack on the President's poetic narrative in Poetry Ireland, describing his latest book, New and Selected Poems, as "lame, stale and stilted" and "bland, imprecise and ultimately incomphrensible".
Durcan believes Michael D is "a unique figure" in Irish poetry. His view has been backed up by commentator and poet Theo Dorgan.
"He has sought words to illustrate and give voice to the deepest social truths," says Dorgan, who also launched a broadside against Kiely.
"He is so consistently and hilariously wrong that a bad review from him is considered a badge of honour" said Dorgan. "And his language is now so wildly disproportionate that I am beginning for fear for his health."
Dorgan suggests people check out Kiely's own poetic efforts on his website -- www.kevinkiely.com -- to make up their own minds.
Meanwhile, many critics say good poets invite pastiche, and the writer Eoghan Harris penned this pastiche in affectionate tribute to our President's poetry -- and managed to fool many of his friends into thinking it was the real thing.
Memory flits like a fairy
Leaps like a deer
And is gone.
All that is left
Mo Chara Anam
Take my memory
But leave my wand.