I wanted to read or hear the narrative of someone else – a woman and a poet – who has gone here and been there. (Eavan Boland)
You can read all about the editorial disregard for Irish women poets at RASCAL (Research And Special Collections Available Locally) at QUB.
Poethead was established in 2008. The site was conceived and planned as a woman-friendly publishing platform that prioritises women poets, their translators, and editors. This space is open to beginning and established poets regardless of their age, experience or ethnicity. You can read about how to submit to the site here.
Poethead is one of only two Irish publishing platforms that host indices centered in women’s literary art. Irish women’s poetry has been continuously neglected and canonically ignored. The site enhances the visibility and searchability of Irish and international women poets. There are two indices built into the site dedicated to increasing the visibility of women poets: an Index Of Women Poets is devoted to women poets from many countries. While Contemporary Irish Women Poets represents an ongoing attempt to index contemporary women poets from Ireland. Billy Mills’ site Elliptical Movements carries An Irish Women Poets Category which is concerned in publishing the work of some earlier Irish women poets.
In creating Poethead, I wanted to open out the poetic imaginative process and platform a wide range of work. I am interested in poetic processes, experimental poetry, translated work and visual poetry. That we have a small poetry avant-garde in these areas is very clear, that they are not supported or encouraged by Irish poetry book editors is also clear. An overweening emphasis on the book as ‘product’ reduces the field of poetry to a narrow conservatism that is not actually reflective of poetry’s renaissance as an art form. Publishers are not using the tools at their disposal to create platforms for showcasing new work, nor are they creating accessible digital archives. There is a very real need for more platforms to showcase new and experimental work. There is no justification or excuse for this complete lack of technological awareness. How the reader encounters the poem and the visibility of the poet in a digital age should be matters of import to all publishers and editors of poetry in planning their long-term digital strategies.
Publishing Women Poets
Our cultural narratives are entirely subjective. In Ireland, an undue emphasis on the post-colonial and heroic narratives effectively locked out women poets. Our literary narratives have mistrusted modernism, experimentalism and sexual anarchism. Current cultural discourses eschew the influence of Irish women poets in the canon. The choices that were made and continue to be made site poetry written by Irish women in the 1960s and 1970s with little to show before that era. Historical sexist canonical choices allow for future diminishment of poetry written by Irish women because the narratives were imposed without adequate challenge or interrogation. There is a yawning narrative gap in the mid-century which few have bothered to investigate or explore. The lack in the Irish cultural narrative accounts for the absence of the woman poet whose voice is minimized is not adequately reviewed, nor is it very audible. The Irish woman poet can quite simply vanish, indeed she has, frequently. No-one seems to be accountable for the appalling neglect of our literary foremothers.
The editors’ categories on the Poethead blog are relatively new and include references to the funding and editing of women editors and translators. My posts and articles are about the women editors who have brought such writers as Simone Weil, Julian of Norwich, Dante and others to a contemporary audience. The list of women editors mentioned in the blog includes Eavan Boland, Cate Marvin, Marion Glasscoe, Dorothy L. Sayers and Joan Dargan, to name but a few.
Poethead carries links to the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights and to UBUWEB, both are concerned in the issue of the poet’s voice, the dissemination of literature and in the intellectual rights of writers to the ownership of their own work. I like sites such as Jacket 2 , Nomadics, Poetry Ireland, Guernica and Harriet and I frequently link to them.
About Copyright and CC-Licenses on Poethead.
Copyright of individual poems published on this site remains with the author and/or translator of the work. The Poethead site uses cc-licenses to identify this owner’s right to assert ownership of the site and to her original works published therein. These works include original poems, critiques, reviews, and essays by C. Murray. Most of those CC-Licenced poems are previously published in Irish Journals or in online magazines.