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A History of Irish Women’s Poetry – 24 June

June 24 @ 7:30 pm

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Join us to celebrate the launch of a new collection of essays reflecting on the history of Irish women’s poetry with the editors Ailbhe Darcy and David Wheatley. The new Cambridge University Press volume offers a ground-breaking and comprehensive account of Irish women’s poetry from earliest times to the present day. Joining the editors will be the poet Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, one of the major Irish poets writing over the past 50 years, and the author of the chapter on her work, the academic Maria Johnston.

The editors, both literary scholars and award-winning poets in their own right, will discuss their shaping the volume and its reading of Irish women’s poetry through many prisms – mythology, gender, history, the nation – and most importantly, close readings of the poetry itself. It covers major figures, such as Maire Mhac an tSaoi, Eavan Boland, Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, as well as neglected figures from the past. Writing in both English and Irish is considered, and close attention paid to the many different contexts in which Irish women’s poetry has been produced and received, from the anonymous work of the early modern period, through the bardic age, the coterie poets of Anglo-Ireland, the nationalist balladeers of Young Ireland, the Irish Literary Revival, and the advent of modernity. The volume and our event seeks to give an answer to the question posed by Ní Chuilleanáin in an essay on Speranza from 2000: ‘what use our female predecessors are to us as writers, what is the function of model, teacher, exemplar?’

Speaker: Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin

Born 1942 in Cork, she is an Emeritus Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, where she has taught, researched and written on Renaissance literature and translation, since 1966; with her husband Macdara Woods, Leland Bardwell and Pearse Hutchinson, she was a founder and (since 1975) co-editor of the Irish poetry journal Cyphers. Her seventh collection of poetry, The Sun-Fish, was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and won the Griffin International Prize for poetry in 2010; The Boys of Bluehill was published in 2015 by Gallery Press, and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize, the Irish Times Poetry Now Award and the Pigott Prize at the Listowel Writers’ Week.

Speaker: Ailbhe Darcy
Ailbhe Darcy

Dr Ailbhe Darcy’s most recent collection of poetry is Insistence, published in June 2018 with Bloodaxe Books, which won Wales Book of the Year and the Piggott Prize for Poetry in association with Listowel Writers’ Week. Her previous collection with Bloodaxe are Imaginary Menagerie (2011). A poetic text in collaboration with S.J. Fowler, Subcritical Tests (2017), published by Gorse Editions, and a chapbook, A Fictional Dress (2009), published by Tall Lighthouse. In February 2020 she presented Alphabet on BBC Radio 4, a programme about Inger Christensen’s extraordinary poem alfabet and its resonance in the age of climate change, produced by Megan Jones. Darcy is a Senior Lecturer at Cardiff University.

Speaker: Maria Johnston
Maria Johnston

Dr. Maria Johnston received her Doctorate in English Literature in 2007 and has since worked as a Lecturer at Trinity College Dublin, the Mater Dei Institute (DCU) and Oxford University. She is a well-known poetry critic and her reviews and essays have appeared in a range of publications including the Guardian, Poetry Ireland Review, Edinburgh Review, The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Poetry and The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary British and Irish Poetry. She is the co-editor of Reading Pearse Hutchinson (Irish Academic Press, 2011) and is currently working on a book on contemporary Irish poetry. Her recent archival discoveries on the poet Ethna McCarthy were featured in the Irish Times.

Speaker: David Wheatley
David Wheatley

Wheatley is a poet and critic whose most recent poetry collection is The President of Planet Earth (Carcanet/Wake Forest UP, 2017). He has published four previous collections with Gallery Press: Thirst (1997; Rooney Prize for Irish Literature), Misery Hill (2000), Mocker (2006), and A Nest on the Waves (2010). Wheatley’s critical work has appeared in numerous edited collections, including The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Poetry (2012), The Oxford Handbook of Victorian Poetry (2013), The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary British and Irish Poetry (2013). He was a founding editor of the poetry journal Metre, and has written on poetry for a variety of other journals.


June 24
7:30 pm
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