Irish poets tackle emigration_ ‘neither here nor there, and therefore home’

In placing a candle-shaped lamp in the window of Áras an Uachtarán as a symbol of national solidarity with the Irish diaspora, President Mary Robinson signified a broader reconsideration of emigration underway in Irish society towards the end of the twentieth century.

As diaspora historian Breda Gray notes in her book Women and the Irish Diaspora, this shift was simultaneously occurring elsewhere around the world: “[L]ike many other emigrant nations in the 1990s (eg India, Mexico, El Salvador and Haiti), the Republic of Ireland was reclaiming its diaspora as a means of refiguring the national as global”. Fantasy sports trade association Ireland has always had a complicated relationship to migration and the recent reconfigurations of emigration and diaspora have precipitated changes in individual, collective and national conceptions of the migrant experience into a new century.

As a means of reflecting and refracting contemporaneous culture, there is much to be learned from the specific ways in which migration is relayed through literary production. Retaining wall design example Exploring what constitutes the national canon of Irish poetry, and how this has evolved, highlights how integral migration is to Irish literary culture.


An alternative Irish poetic tradition via poets such as Brian Coffey, Thomas MacGreevy, Denis Devlin, Pearse Hutchinson and Desmond O’Grady in the early- and mid-twentieth century drew on international literary traditions, and the work of these writers owes much to their permanent, temporary and imaginative emigrations to England, Europe and the United States. Garden design pictures for small gardens Through their writings, it is possible to trace some of these alternative routes of twentieth-century poetry, thereby providing a necessary counterpoint to the historically dominant emphasis on literary revivalism.

The well-recognised synchronicity between place and poet underpins many critical approaches to reading Irish poetry – one can’t help but think of Seamus Heaney’s bogs, Patrick Kavanagh’s stony grey soil and John Montague’s rough fields. Softball fans forum The poetry of place, and its associations of nationality, locality, rurality and identity, forms a crucial part of the Irish literary story but what of the poetry of elsewhere? Given that so many of our poets now live outside the island of Ireland, how does the poetry of migration fit into the national canon?

Contemporary migration, with its ambiguous relationship to national identity, necessarily challenges the established parameters of diasporic discourse. Frances bavier husband Questions of influence and affiliation, and of identity and belonging, apply anew to more recent generations who have rejected what recent Costa-prize winning novelist Sebastian Barry terms “the inherited boundaries” of Irish literature, and inhabit a hybrid, globalised world.

Rosita Boland’s 2011 article “What Daffodils were to Wordsworth, Drains and Backstreet Pubs are to Me” in this newspaper highlighted the fact that many of our most prominent poets now reside abroad. Fantasy baseball team names How does the migration experience manifest itself in their poetry? There are no hard and fast rules for contemporary poets of the diaspora – the poetics of migration are as varied as the migratory experience itself. Yankee stadium Some poets elect to insert themselves into the narrative of Irish historical emigration, whereas others find new identities in the global community of fellow immigrants.

Missouri resident Eamonn Wall moved to the United States as part of the resurgent wave of emigration in the 1980s, and his poetry finds imaginative affiliation with those other “green card immigrants” as well as with the victims of the Wexford container tragedy in 2001. Bradstone Harry Clifton writes himself into a Parisian commune of European emigrés as part of his existential displacement, one of many “ciphers of exile” beneath the “softness of acacia trees, and plane-trees” in The Fourteenth District.

Indeed, borders are often blurred in migrant poetry, as for Bernard O’Donoghue, whose trips across the archipelago from his long-term home in Oxford to his childhood home in north Cork is evoked in Westering Home. Off the pitch Like David Wheatley’s ode To the M62, Westering Home tracks a familiar journey to Holyhead to take the ferry to Dublin, the well-trodden emigrant route.

The blurring of borders through migration often functions as an enabling force for poets, allowing for new dimensions of formal, thematic and imagistic innovation. Usa softball pitcher Irish landscapes are brought into dialogue with new spaces and other histories, a delicate act woven exquisitely by Mexico-based Dylan Brennan in his collection Blood Orange (2014). Usssa baseball teams His poem Bones of Anonymous Children, expressly located in the ancient site of Tlachihualtepetl, links the sacrificial rituals revealed through the excavations at the Mexican pyramid to the scandal of the discovery of the mass grave of the Tuam Babies. Laying paving slabs on soil In linking these geographically and temporally disparate events, Brennan delivers a poem that is devastating in its detachment, an effect surely enhanced by the poet’s distance from Ireland.

In Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities, migration theorist Avtar Brah speaks of “multilocationality” as the defining characteristic of contemporary diaspora, situated “across territorial, cultural and psychic boundaries”. Patio town oakdale The actual lived experience of distance is a topic that occupies many of our poets living abroad, in particular the new realities of technology and digital innovation that have profoundly altered how we interact with each other and with the wider world. Front yard landscaping ideas Replacing letters ferried across the ocean, missives from home now take the form of email and video messages imbued with imagined tactility as a balm for homesickness. Gardenia tattoo Vona Groarke’s Away, from her 2009 volume Spindrift, captures the paradox of proximity and distance brought about by technological connection:

Multilocationality also preoccupies Conor O’Callaghan, whose experience of migration is narrated through the lens of technology. Dripping springs tx weather Where traditional emigration narratives have strict spatial contours, technology disrupts temporal and geographical distinctions, advancing earlier developments in communication in unprecedented ways. Garden supplies near me New media not only enables continual engagement with the original community, via online newspapers, radio/television, social media apps and video calls, but it also opens towards prospective alternative communities. Pitching mechanics drills These communities are formed through affiliations of choice rather than through accidents of geography; in the vast space of the internet, anonymity and intimacy coexist in a strange but powerful harmony. Funny softball team names O’Callaghan’s long poem The Pearl Works from his 2013 volume The Sun King originated as a Twitter poem and each verse falls under the 140-character limit. Cobblestone wall As demonstrated in this tweet, The Pearl Works is premised on simultaneous connectivity that reaches across the globe:

The gloriously celebratory image of the Aurora Borealis off Ireland’s northern coastline juxtaposed beside Chinese New Year festivities and phone calling cards captures the shifting exchanges between cultures intimated in O’Callaghan’s meditations on migration. Baseball scoresheet The formal innovation of The Pearl Works stretches to the physical presentation of the poem; the 52-stanza poem is typeset in landscape rather than portrait view, obliging the reader to flip the book in a move that anticipates a digital device. Garden layout In Prague-resident Justin Quinn’s poetry, technology is similarly omnipresent and even more ominous – in his volume Fuselage individual autonomy is eroded by digital authority and “home”, a concept precious to the migrant, is reduced to mere functionality, described as “the large machines for living in”.

Nevertheless, home and its multiplicity remains a key concern in migration poetry. Closeout bats com Contemporary migration is essentially a dialogue of leaving and return, and the phenomenon of return and repeat migration is a feature for many Irish people, poets included. Sprinkler world utah Award-winning poet Sinéad Morrissey returned to Belfast after a decade abroad and the title of her second collection, Between Here and There, points to the interstitial condition of many migrants, who find themselves in a cycle of departures and arrivals. Softball nation For Morrissey, resettlement in her home city is in many ways as challenging as any of her earlier relocations, resulting in a poetic renegotiation that plays out on the pages:

Colette Bryce encounters similar challenges on returning, even temporarily, to her home city of Derry. Small backyard ideas The journey takes her “down through a tunnel of years / to a time preserved in a cube of fumes, the seventies-yellowing / walls of remembrance; everyone smokes and talks about the land, / the talk about the land, our spoiled inheritance”. Outdoor voices founder For Bryce, migration is the ultimate realisation of the alternate spaces she rehearses in poems like The Full Indian Rope Trick and Car Wash; migration has long offered an escape from the heteronormative expectations of conservative Irish society described via the construction of a family tree in A Clan Gathering:

The poetry of contemporary migration broadens our understanding of how Irish identity and culture is developing in dialogue with larger social, literary and technological movements. Define pitch The complex story of a changing Ireland and its relationship with the wider world is more fully understood by recognising the literature of migration, both emigration and immigration, as integral to Irish cultural heritage. Frances bean cobain twitter With the varieties of exchanges and engagements taking place both in Ireland and elsewhere, the poetry of migration is lively, fluid and continually surprising.

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