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Eavan Boland
Eavan Boland

Our Price:49.00
Authors: Jody Allen Randolph
Affiliation: University College Dublin
Publication Year: Hardback March 2014
Pages: 246
Size: 234 x 156mm

ISBN: 9781782050841

In this powerful and authoritative study of Eavan Boland, Jody Allen Randolph provides the fullest account yet of the work of a major figure in twentieth-century Irish literature as well as in contemporary women's writing

Eavan Boland's achievement in changing the map of Irish poetry is tracked and analyzed from her first poems to the present. The book traces the evolution of that achievement, guiding the reader through Boland's early attachment to Yeats, her growing unease with the absence of women's writing, her encounter with pioneering American poets like Sylvia Plath, Elizabeth Bishop, and Adrienne Rich, and her eventual, challenging amendments in poetry and prose to Ireland's poetic tradition.

Using research from private papers the book also traces a time of upheaval and change in Ireland, exploring Boland's connection to Mary Robinson, in a chapter that details the nexus of a woman president and a woman poet in a country that was resistant to both. Finally, this book invites the reader to share a compelling perspective on the growth of a poet described by one critic as Ireland's 'first great woman poet'

Jody Allen Randolph is a research fellow at the Centre for the Study of Gender, Culture and Identities at the Humanities Institute at University College Dublin.

The Contemporary Irish Writers Series is a co-publication with Bucknell University Press.

Average Rating: Average Rating: 5 of 5 5 of 5 Total Reviews: 4 Write a review »

  1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Eavan Boland June 2, 2015
Reviewer: Gisele Giandoni Wolkoff, Estudios Irlandeses from Brazil  
Allen Randolph starts the volume by reminding us that the poet proposes a dialogue of the older Boland with the younger one, which clearly appears in Object Lessons, in The Lost Land and in Against Love Poetry. This dialogue of the younger and older poet(s), as seen in the last two chapters, particularly reinforces Boland's development as a poet who is gradually more concerned with nationhood, motherhood and the maternal body, as representational strategies of reflections upon Ireland’s changes. 'Exiles in Our Own Country', the last chapter of the volume Eavan Boland, gives an account of how A Journey with Two Maps offers a different way of looking into literary 'geographies', to an extent that reaches transnationality and inserts Boland's poetics into the space of diaspora, and postcolonialism, where identities are dissolving and barriers imperfect. Thus, Boland's poetics allows for new identities to flourish, giving space to difference in a cosmopolitan world, the diverse Anglophone world, in which both Jody Allen Randolph, as literary critic, and Eavan Boland, as poet, move themselves and create.

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  1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Eavan Boland June 2, 2015
Reviewer: Sarah McNeely, New Hibernia Review from USA  
Randolph accesses a wealth of previously unexamined material, including unpublished letters and essays from Boland's personal archive. The author's closeness to her subject-the product of Randolph's decades of critical engagement with Boland-occasionally leads to a somewhat adulatory tone. However, Randolph persuasively substantiates the claims she makes about Boland's remarkable career, and the end result is a thorough, useful single-author study. Jodie Allen Randolph's Eavan Boland will be required reading for students or teachers of Irish poetry, Irish women's writing, postcolonial literatures, and others who share Randolph's interest in this essential author.

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  1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Eavan Boland August 20, 2014
Reviewer: Thomas McCarthy, The Irish Examiner from Ireland  
SCHOLARSHIP, and particularly gender scholarship, teaches us that there is no such thing as simply reading. You come to the page drunk or rabid with prejudice: 'Boland's work has been tested by various critiques, from the feminist to the postcolonial, from the postmodern to the environmental, from visual studies to film theory to diaspora theory,' writes UCD research fellow, Jody Allen Randolph, as she sets up the dissecting table under these theories. What distinguishes the complex and intellectually trenchant Boland is her respectful relationship with such theorists: academic by nature and nurture, she trusts the process of intellectual dialogue.

No Irish poet, not even Seamus Heaney, was so prepared for a lifelong dialogue with a highly motivated readership. One of the great delights of this book, part of the Cork University Press series on Irish writers, is that it is an exhausting and thrilling narrative of that intellectual, mainly feminist, dialogue between the poet and her demanding congregation of listeners.

These chapters are singed with controversy and a great ferment in the public domain; the smell of a public burning comes off the pages. As scholar and theorist, Allen Randolph would eschew the poet Joseph Brodsky's warning that a writer has but a life and a work. The new scholarship has ensured that we now read poems through the highly glazed window of theory. In Allen Randolph's and Boland's cases, this is a happy match: this book is a monument to a long and scholarly relationship. Here is Boland's Boswell, or Joseph Hone. By the age of 30, Boland had abandoned the simplistic Brodsky viewpoint; she had re-orientated her conventional thinking. In an act of defiance, mainly against herself, she abandoned the poet-woman of the old 'Aisling', the woman as national metaphor, and embraced the body imperfect. Womanhood, motherhood, sisterhood, bodily function, rather than the table-tapping theosophists of Yeats, became the basis for her new theory of art. A new architecture of historic and personal feeling was born that was every bit as radical as the concave house of her famous architect godfather, Michael Scott; a place from which Boland remembers gazing upon Joyce's Martello tower. Joyce, of course, is the great untoppled omphalos of fearful Jesuits and exploitative male ambition.

The resistance to Boland's re-centring, the creation of her self as the centre of a canon, was both heated and illuminating. Most of the commentary in Ireland between 1980 and 1990 has never found its way into print. It was the snide and nasty put-down, a shrewd short-selling of what she was attempting to do. Regressive elements in a culture rarely want to be placed on the record, but always hope, like the cowards they are, that some ill-advised fool will do the hatchet-job for them. By 1990, certainly by 1994, Boland's trajectory had sent her well beyond the reach of Irish hatchets, regressive or otherwise. Her eyes were always on the main prize, which was to come into possession of her fully integrated self. Allen Randolph, here, follows Ms Boland's marvellous journey, from suburban The War Horse to mystical Night Feed to the kitchen and shadow kitchen of Domestic Violence: 'nothing we said not then, not later,fathomed what it isis wrong in the lives of those who hate each other. With Boland it is always more than the poems, though. The theoretical garden where the poems grow is a product of invented belonging, a deliberate, Yeats-like act by someone who was never at home in a simply defined Irish house.

Boland's greatest years of personal happiness and fulfilment were when she created a 'territory' that became the poetry of The Journey. Those were years of living poetry rather than living a theory. Allen Randolph charts this old 'territory' and new 'territory' in her very early discussion of Boland's two collections of essays, Object Lessons and A Journey with Two Maps: 'While Object Lessons was a book by a woman poet negotiating with a national tradition, A Journey with Two Maps is transnational in reach, engaging the question of how women poets are made, and what goes into that making ... ' Indeed, in the early '80s I remember reciting Boland poems to mainly female tyro-poets at Iowa University: their response to her work was wonder-filled, welcoming, thrilled. I had to put my own two books, and talk of poor old Eamon de Valera away and, instead, field a torrent of questions on Night Feed and In Her Own Image. I remember thinking 'I hope this woman finds this audience.'

The narrative of Allen Randolph's book is how such a first-rate poet found such a first-rate readership, despite a distance of air miles and cultural background. Allen Randolph seems a generous, expansive intelligence, both analytical and affirming, in a ground-marking work of literary synthesis.

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  1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Eavan Boland July 22, 2014
Reviewer: Belinda Cooke, Poetry Nation Review from Scotland  
Jody Allen Randolph in Eavan Boland (Contemporary Irish Writers) shows thorough knowledge and passion for the subject, sensitive analysis of primary texts and lucid, jargon-free prose. Allen Randolph in her introduction made ambitious statements for Eavan Boland's international status. This study is a convincing endorsement of that status but, perhaps, more importantly it is evidence of Boland's sustained commitment to uncovering a truer version of the true past which may be of some comfort to women writers in more constrained circumstances as Allen Randolph notes in her conclusion: 'Boland's painful alignment of nationhood and womanhood offers definitions for women poets in cultures where that alignment is difficult and may even be dangerous.' (p. 184)

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