A Saturday Woman Poet, Eavan Boland.

Whilst reading the Chris Agee edited Poetry (October – November 1995), I happened upon the truly beautiful Mother Ireland, penned by Eavan Boland. I am adding a Boston Globe interview (excerpted) and Eavan Boland link, entitled Exploring Poetry’s ‘Lesser Space‘ to the blog as this week’s Saturday Woman Poet , which is becoming a regular item on the blog. I have included the links to the Saturday Woman Poet archive and tag-set alongside other related links.

The interview is companion to a post that I re-blogged this week , entitled Female Complexities, Dorothy Molloy and fits neatly into the theme of intimacy in writing, as opposed to the monumental writ upon a large-scale canvas poetry beloved of politicians and other uncreative people.  Sylvia Plath referred to this celebration of the small, the real and the domestic as a writing of the thinginess of things, the exploration of  poetic voice grounded in objects. It is most visible in the final poem of her Ariel sequence, Wintering. I have linked both of  these aforementioned posts on Plath and Molloy at the base of this post.

The Week In Irish Arts and Culture .

It has been an appalling and destructive week for Irish arts , this is grounded not alone in the economical situation but in what amounts to an ongoing policy or set of policies which have starved  Irish arts at their  root. A degradation of immense proportion has been occurring since at least 2004 , when the current Government initiated the National Monuments Act, which showed a scant attention to to the ideology of conservation, butrather favoured the ideology of destruction for profiteering. The swathe of heritage and cultural destruction reached its rational conclusion in three things , the bisection of the Gabhra Valley , the endowment of an Artist’s exemption to the ghost-written book of a former Taoiseach and the introduction of a Criminalisation for Blasphemy onto the Irish statute in January 2010, which has reduced our place in the press freedom league.

Exploring Poetry’s ‘Lesser Space’ , Boston Globe.

I do not believe that a Government should underestimate the alienation that occurs as a result of cultural self-vandalisation and ignorance  of its role in stewardship and protection, but it apparently does , as it celebrates its own myopia and abject failure in the teeth of Ireland’s  depression. From Exploring Poetry’s ‘Lesser Space’ (Boston Globe’s Interview with Eavan Boland).

Explain how Irish women, as you write, went “from being the objects of the Irish poem to being its authors.

A The archetypical poem I have in mind is Yeats’s “Cathleen ni Houlihan,” which was a very romanticized, static portrait. The woman was so iconic and so overlaid with images of Ireland that for women to become the authors of the poem they had to somehow leave that object behind or contest it.

Q How did this affect you? 

A It made me very aware of how difficult it was in Irish poetry to have an ordinary, day-to-day subject. Nineteenth-century painting, by contrast, often depicted the details of everyday life — people sitting in rooms, at tables; nobody questioned the value of those images to an artist. But when I was a young poet it was easier to have a political murder in the Irish poem than a baby.”

The Black Lace Fan my Mother Gave Me.

by Eavan Boland                   

It was the first gift he ever gave her,
buying it for five five francs in the Galeries
in pre-war Paris. It was stifling.
A starless drought made the nights stormy…

They stayed in the city for the summer.
The met in cafes. She was always early.
He was late. That evening he was later.
They wrapped the fan. He looked at his watch.

She looked down the Boulevard des Capucines.
She ordered more coffee. She stood up.
The streets were emptying. The heat was killing.
She thought the distance smelled of rain and lightning.

These are wild roses, appliqued on silk by hand,
darkly picked, stitched boldly, quickly.
The rest is tortoiseshell and has the reticent clear patience
of its element. It is
a worn-out, underwater bullion and it keeps,
even now, an inference of its violation.
The lace is overcast as if the weather
it opened for and offset had entered it.

The past is an empty cafe terrace.
An airless dusk before thunder. A man running.
And no way to know what happened then—
none at all—unless ,of course, you improvise:

The blackbird on this first sultry morning,
in summer, finding buds, worms, fruit,
feels the heat. Suddenly she puts out her wing—
the whole, full, flirtatious span of it.

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