|I do not often recommend newspaper articles on Irish poetry, but I am making an exception in the case of The Examiner’s review of Eavan Boland’s latest book New and Selected Poems Eavan Boland (Carcanet). J P O’Malley offers an extensive review, some illuminating video links, and a preview of his upcoming interview with Boland at The Boogaloo (London) in this article.
‘The heroic narrative that the founding fathers of the State attempted to make a universal truth is also something that Boland’s poetry has challenged consistently. Lest we forget, the birth of the Irish nationalist myth was forged initially through poetry, which unapologetically glorified violence ‘ (Examiner)
It was a similar situation in the visual arts where censorship was prevalent and the original blasphemy laws (we updated them again in 2010) were used to suppress arts, most notoriously the work of Charles Rouault. We can examine how publications were seized and often censored for crimes like obscenity. The fact that there existed before Boland an entire suppressed narrative, a body of literature by women poets, should not surprise us, although it continues to be forgotten and ignored even today. It would be incredibly naïve of the reader to assume that there existed a desert before Eavan Boland’s work flowered in the 1970’s. The women poets were there but they were ignored by the critical and academic establishment, immersed as they were in the imaginative creation of the state.
I have added in a brief note on Emma Penney’s thesis at the base of this post which challenges the critical reception of Eavan Boland and the restrictive criteria, developed in the 1970’s, under which poetry by women in Ireland has been assessed. Boland alludes to the suppressed narrative throughout her writing career. We are the land of the suppressed poetic narrative afterall. I believe that some people would like to think that women probably did not write poetry much then, but that’s basically a cop-out based in critical laziness and cultural misogyny. The imaginative creation of ‘state’ seems a task left to the masculine poet and his apologetics professors and there are plenty of those.
“In the mid 1960s, when Boland started out as a writer, there was no place for women in the canon of Irish poetry. Moreover, the chances of making it as a poet seemed impossible when she moved to of Dundrum in south Dublin to raise a family. At the time, novelists like Richard Yates in the US were writing about the slow death of creativity in boring, bourgeois-suburbia.
Emma Penney, a graduate of the Oscar Wilde Centre, Trinity College Dublin. Her thesis, Now I am a Tower of Darkness: A Critical History of Poetry by Women in Ireland, challenges the critical reception of Eavan Boland and the restrictive criteria, developed in the 1970’s, under which poetry by women in Ireland has been assessed. She considers the subversive nature of women’s poetry written between 1921 and 1950, and calls into question the critical assumption that Eavan Boland represents “the first serious attempt in Ireland to make a body of poems that arise out of the contemporary female consciousness”. In Object Lessons, Boland concluded that there were no women poets before her who communicated “an expressed poetic life” in their work. Emma’s thesis reveals how this view has permeated the critical landscape of women’s poetry, facilitating an absurd privation of the history of poetry by women in Ireland and simplifying it in the process.
Head of death
The seasons dissipate as if they
A dissolving sky
The silent laughter of the blood
Ruins of the foreign sky
Smears of dying animals upon clear glass
A blindfold of congealed earth
Lacking the light
Brute flesh shocks the nothing back
And is then pissed upon
Heart of desolate
Nowhere else/ nowhere/ nothing less
Echoes of non-being
One final breath to champion the infinite
Haven to begin from
With liquid hands
Echo within echo within shadow of…
Pantheon of carousel/ of vertigo/ of absences
Night’s undoing was never night
Danse of polka winds…night undone/
Silent retrace of bone/ vapours/ memories
Immense sky of non-death/ nothing lessened
Hollowed tongue…winds dealt/ silenced
Sing elixir of non-speech/ mouth full of dry sands
Adrift…a visage of mists…(dead unto breath)/ arbitrary
Night of vague breathing/ unheard voices/ voices heard
Stillness of forgotten sky/ there or here again/ cast aside
Waste ground/ flies of haste/ silver voices/ decay
Arise dead/ so much the/ dread/ silenced/ birthed
|All the images accompanying the poems from Of Dead Silences (Lapwing 2013) are © Michael McAloran (Acrylic on unprimed canvas, 2012)|
|Michael Mc Aloran was Belfast born, (1976). His work has appeared in various print and online zines, including Carcinogenic Poetry, Calliope Nerve, The Recusant, PMI, Sex & Murder Magazine, Full Of Crow, Media Virus, In Between Altered States, Horror, Sleaze & Trash, Negative Suck, Graffiti Kolkata, Pratishedhak, Prathamata, Danse Macabre, amphibi.us, The Plebian Rag, Full of Crow, Gloom Cupboard, Gutter Eloquence, 1000th Monkey, Fashion For Collapse, Fragile Arts Quarterly, Clockwise Cat, Sein Und Werden, Peripheral Surveys, Milk Sugar Literary Journal, Psychic Meatloaf, Cannoli Pie, The Medulla Review, Counterexample Poetics, Heavy Bear, Indigo Rising, Widowmoon Press, Nothing, No-one, Nowhere, Mastodon Dentist, Gobbet, Ink Sweat & Tears, Ygdrasil, Establishment, Stride, A New Ulster, Primal Urge Magazine, Can Can, etc.He has authored a number of chapbooks, including ‘The Gathered Bones’, (Calliope Nerve Media), ‘Final Fragments’, (Calliope Nerve Media), & ‘The Death-Streaked Air’ (Virgogray Press), ‘Debris’, (Erbacce-Press),‘The Rapacious Night‘, (Calliope Nerve Media),’, & ‘Unto Naught’, (Erbacce-Press). A full-length collection of poems, ‘Attributes’, was published by ‘Desperanto’, (NY), in May 2011, & ‘The Non Herein’ was published by Lapwing Publications in 2012. An ekphrastic text/ image book, ‘Machinations’ was published in 2013 by Knives, Forks & Spoons Press (U.K). More recently, two further collections, ‘In Damage Seasons’ & ‘All Stepped/ Undone’ were published by Oneiros Books. Lapwing Publications also recently published a collection of imagistic aphorisms, ‘Of Dead Silences’|
Doris Lessing died a matter of days after I had received permission to carry some of the poems from her Fourteen Poems on this blog indefinitely. I had put up the following note and message and see no reason to remove it. I am happy that I have carried her work for a few years. I wrote a brief tribute to Lessing’s writing and influence on my writing life here.
We’d be delighted for you to host the poems for longer especially if you’re getting such good reactions. Doris Lessing was never very keen on her poetry and didn’t think it was any good so I doubt we will see a re-issue but at least this way, they are available in an alternative form.
The Spanish Girl Haiku
|Virginie Colline lives and writes in Paris. Her poems have appeared in The Scrambler, Notes from the Gean, Prune Juice, Frostwriting, Prick of the Spindle, Mouse Tales Press, StepAway Magazine, BRICKrhetoric, Overpass Books, Dagda Publishing, Silver Birch Press and Yes, Poetry, among others.|
– Rebecca O’Connor
World Put to Rights
Moya Cannon was born in 1956 in Dunfanaghy, County Donegal. She studied History and Politics at University College Dublin, and at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
She has taught in the Gaelscoil in Inchicore, in a school for adolescent travellers in Galway, and at the National University of Ireland in Galway. She served as editor of Poetry Ireland in 1995. Her work has appeared in a number of international anthologies and she has held writer-in-residence posts for Kerry County Council and Trent University Ontario (1994–95).
Cannon became a member of Aosdána, the affiliation of creative artists in Ireland, in 2004.
Her first book, Oar, (Salmon 1990, revised edition Gallery Press 2000) won the 1991 Brendan Behan Memorial Prize. It was followed by The Parchment Boat in 1997. Carrying the Songs: New and Selected Poems was published by Carcanet Press in 2007.
The Rights Of Woman,
Or Fashions for the Year 93 – being the Era of Women’s literally wearing the Breeches. – Health and Fraternity!
The “lost” poetry of the celebrated Irish writer Dorothea Herbert, whose Retrospections, first published in 1929-30 more than a century after her death, continues to captivate readers. By turns amusing and melancholic, the recently recovered poems – and particularly her astonishing mock-heroic epic The Buckiad – are an important contribution to late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Irish literature.
Paula Meehan has published five collections of poetry, the most recent being Painting Rain (Carcanet, 2009). A selected volume, entitled Mysteries of the Home, was published in 1996. Her writing for stage includes the plays Mrs Sweeney (1997), Cell (1999), and, for children, Kirkle (1995), The Voyage (1997) and The Wolf of Winter (2003/2004). Her poetry has been set to music by artists as diverse as the avant-garde composer John Wolf Brennan and the folksinger Christy Moore.
All About Climbing
Eileen Sheehan is from Killarney, Co Kerry. Her collections are Song of the Midnight Fox and Down the Sunlit Hall (Doghouse Books). Anthology publications include The Watchful Heart: A New Generation of Irish Poets (ed Joan McBreen/Salmon Poetry) and TEXT: A Transition Year English Reader (ed Niall MacMonagle/ Celtic Press). She has worked as Poet in Residence with Limerick Co Council Arts Office and is on the organizing committee for Éigse Michael Hartnett Literary & Arts Festival. Her third collection, The Narrow Place of Souls, is forthcoming.
Mary O’ Donnell
Hungary is © Mary O’ Donnell
Mary O’Donnell is the author of eleven books, both poetry and fiction, and has also co-edited a book of translations from the Galician. Her titles include the best-selling literary novel “The Light-Makers”, “Virgin and the Boy”, and “The Elysium Testament”, as well as poetry such as “The Place of Miracles”, “Unlegendary Heroes”, and her most recent critically acclaimed sixth collection “The Ark Builders” (Arc Publications UK, 2009). She has been a teacher and has worked intermittently in journalism, especially theatre criticism. Her essays on contemporary literary issues are widely published. She also presented and scripted three series of poetry programmes for the national broadcaster RTE Radio, including a successful series on poetry in translation during 2005 and 2006 called ‘Crossing the Lines‘. Today, she teaches creative writing in a part time capacity at NUI Maynooth, and has worked on the faculty of Carlow University Pittsburgh’s MFA programme in creative writing, as well as on the faculty of the University of Iowa’s summer writing programme at Trinity College Dublin.