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James Simmons (James Stewart Alexander Simmons) Biography

(1933–2001), (James Stewart Alexander Simmons), The Honest Ulsterman, Ballad of a Marriage, Late but in Earnest

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Seven Against Thebes (Hepta epi Thēbas; Septem contra Thebas) to Sir Walter Scott and Scotland

Northern Irish poet, born in Londonderry, educated at the University of Leeds. After teaching at Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria, in 1968 he became a lecturer at the New University of Ulster, Coleraine. In 1968 he founded the poetry magazine The Honest Ulsterman. Simmons's Ballad of a Marriage was published along with pamphlets by Seamus Heaney and others to mark the Belfast Festival of 1965, initiating the emergence of Ulster poetry. His collections include Late but in Earnest (1967), The Long Summer Still To Come (1973), Judy Garland and the Cold War (1976), From the Irish (1985), Poems 1956–1986 (1986), Sex, Rectitude and Loneliness (1993), and Mainstream (1994). His poetry is noted for its humour, candour, and fluently accessible use of traditional forms. The ‘generous democracy of response’ Edna Longley noted in Simmons's work forms a basis for the forceful rejection of cultural élitism in his ‘No Land Is Waste, Dr Eliot’. His treatments of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland include ‘Lament for a Dead Policeman’, which exposes the complexity of social, credal, and familial loyalties in the region's troubled culture. Among his other publications is the critical work Sean O'Casey (1983).

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