Fresh Perspectives on Irish Literature
Edited By Paddy Lyons and Alison O'Malley-Younger
These shifts in culture have given Irish literature the opportunity to look afresh at its own past and, thereby, new perspectives have also opened for Irish Studies. The contributors to this volume explore these new openings; the essays examine writings from both now and the past in the new frames afforded by new times.
Matt McGuire Northern Irish Poetry in the Twenty-First Century 87
Northern Irish Poetry in the Twenty-First Century Matt McGuire Applying the phrase ‘No Country for Old Men’ to Northern Irish poetry is a highly suggestive critical enterprise. It presents a number of contexts in which to reconsider one of the most widely theorised corners of the Irish literary terrain. This essay focuses on the generational rather than gender implications of the phrase. This being said, female voices figure prominently in the discussion that follows. Their inclusion is indicative of the fundamental importance of women’s writing to the poetic DNA of the contemporary North. If we were to round up the usual suspects of Northern Irish poetry we might well find ourselves faced with a group of white haired old men. Born in the late 1930s and the early 1940s, Seamus Heaney is now sixty-nine, Michael Longley sixty-eight and Derek Mahon sixty-seven. ‘No Country for Old Men’ would imply that these are somehow figures of a bygone era – gold watches have been issued, bus passes collected. Fortunately for us, poetry is not your average workplace. Despite their vintage, all three men have continued to produce exciting new work well into the next millennium. Winning the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2006, District and Circle showed little sign that Seamus Heaney’s star was in any way fading. In a literary climate where novelty and youth increasingly enthral, such seasoned ‘pros’ offer an important point of stability, a cold eye cast over the promises of our brave new world. ‘No Country …’ also implies...
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