There is a cruel lie in Ireland, that women poets’ and writers’ absence from our cultural narrative, and by extension from the imaginative creation of the state, is based on their invisibility within the literary canon. That lie is based in the failure of academia to contextualize and historicize the place of women literary artists within the development of an Irish literature that has focused its effort on the authoritative male voice, the heroic and triumphant post-colonial narrative that is taught in schools and universities throughout the island of Ireland. We’re now taking a pledge to fight for equitable gender representation.
In fact, since we proposed a pledge of withdrawal of participation in readings, events, reviews, books, and conferences that do not adequately represent the contribution of women in literature, many people have contacted us with increasingly stark figures of taught texts that absent women poets including, The Rattle Bag (edited by Heaney and Hughes) at 7.2% women poets, Poets From The North Of Ireland (edited by Frank Ormsby) at 3.7% women poets, and A Choice Of Poets (GCSE Text) edited by R.P Hewitt (1968) at 0% women poets. The Cambridge Companion to Irish Poets includes four essays out of 27 written by women, and even fewer women poets. A consistent and willful erasure of women’s imaginative dialogue within the foundation of the Irish state, their relation to their language, and their taste for experimental poetry. (read more at VIDA)