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Contemporary Irish Poetry

Class at Faculty of Arts |



This one-semester optional seminar course will introduce students to the wide range of Irish poets writing in English today. With the emergence of Eavan Boland?s work in the 1960s, the issue of gender became more prominent. Her essays on the struggle to forge a feminine poetry distinctly different from that of her male counterparts have made a significant impact?as has her poetry?especially for the younger generation of Irish women poets now coming to prominence, such as Medbh McGuckian and Paula Meehan, and for male poets also.

Her poetry is, in part, a reaction to the work of poets such as Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon and Michael Longley. We will examine the work of these writers in this light, and also explore it for the themes found in Montague?s seminal book-length poem. These three poets, all from Northern Ireland, have had to face the problem of the British presence in Ireland not as something in a history book but as an everyday fact of life on the streets of Belfast. Demands are made upon the writer in such difficult times, and we will examine their differing reactions to the violent world they found themselves in from the 1960s onward.

These ideas will be developed in an examination of more recent, ?postmodern? Irish poets such as Paul Muldoon, and show how the present variety of voices and imaginations extend one of the most vibrant English poetic traditions at the moment.


The main text for this course will be The Penguin Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry, eds. Peter Fallon & Derek Mahon (Harmondsworth: Penguin).


Record of attendance will be kept and to receive their credit all students will be obliged to submit an essay of 3,000 words at the end of the term.