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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Modern Irish and Scottish Poetry

Much critical eatin’ and drinkin’ in Peter Mackay, Edna Longley and Fran Brearton’s new CUP essay collection Modern Irish and Scottish Poetry. As follows:

‘Yeats and MacDiarmid are arguably far closer in ultimate stature than criticism, at least criticism as practised beyond Scotland, has realised.’ (Patrick Crotty)

‘[Herbert] Grierson’s rewriting of English literature [as editor of John Donne] stung Yeats into an Irish modernism and reinvented Christopher Murray Grieve as Hugh MacDiarmid.’ (Cairns Craig)

‘Instead of the heightened detachment – which should not be mistaken for “condescension” – of MacNeice’s third person, MacDiarmid starts at ground level, confused by a cencrastian overlap of walls as grey as the sea, putting the reader there with him as “we”, until roused to claim authority by an assertion of first-person omniscience that MacNeice cannily avoids.’ (John Kerrigan)

‘Alongisde the clarity of [Sorley MacLean’s] role in the desert (...) there came an understanding that there was no single location or standpoint of poetry of the war.’ (Peter Mackay)

‘The older Gaelic tradition is a primary source from which complex modern concerns can be illuminated with resonance, depth and wisdom.’ (Máire Ní Annracháin)

‘Whenever I hear a poet or anyone else proselytise on behalf of poetry, I cringe.’ (Douglas Dunn)

‘It is what poetry must do repeatedly, to listen to a native foreignness.’ (Robert Crawford)

‘Heaney demolishes the centre-margin binarism altogether, repositioning – and reconceiving – Beowulf in the process.’ (Hugh Magennis)

‘While Muldoon’s translations [of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill] feel like magic tricks, McGuckian’s feel like transmogrifications.’ (Eric Falci)

‘Cultural nationalism was itself a foreign import.’ (Christopher Whyte)

‘In the way that Carson has arranged First Language, Irish becomes (...) an originary language, and to write in English is to be thrown into translation and “alienation” (...). But he does this not to assert, or describe, the postcolonial scar, but rather to explore imaginatively the more universal structures of language use. The work is no longer preoccupied with the Irish/English binary, but rather how we all speak and write the language of the other.’ (Justin Quinn)

‘The sense of promise that Irish and Scottish place names hint at seems to be swiftly disappearing over the horizon.’ (Alan Gillis)

‘Poetry retains the right to disagree rather than agree not only its own terms and forms but also its subjects and places.’ (Aaron Kelly)

‘It could perhaps be argued that more recent critical engagements with concrete poetry and avant-garde aesthetics in Scottish studies have been overly imbued with the need to assert connections with Scottish literary tradition, as a way of “making safe.”’ (Eleanor Bell)

‘The opposite of Irish parochialism is not Irish modernism but the world.’ (DW)

‘Yet that [the addressees of Michael Longley’s verse letters] reacted tetchily rather than rallying to the call is, of course, part of the point and, ironically enough, a measure of how much the relationships are to be trusted: friendship is the sound basis for productive argument as against ideological deadlock.’ (Fran Brearton)

‘The knowledge that these are Tatyana Tolstoy’s own words confuses the issue of who is speaking, and for whom. Indeed, it asks whether it is ethical for McGuckian to speak “on behalf of” nineteenth-century women (or Mandelstam “for” his wife, as he records doing in his letter), and by implication for McGuckian’s poetry to represent a thing called “Women’s Poetry”, of which hers is one variety.’ (Leontia Flynn)

‘Then (as now) arguments about aesthetics and form struggled to disentangle themselves from literary nationalism, literary anti-nationalism, and confused blends of the two.’ (Edna Longley)

‘The real cost of living in civil society – to believer and non-believers alike – is the realisation that we do not have access to a higher order of understanding: there is no metaphysics, no superhuman, no channel of the divine.’ (Michael Brown)

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