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Beyond Ireland

Encounters Across Cultures


Edited By Hedda Friberg-Harnesk, Gerald Porter and Joakim Wrethed

This collection looks beyond Ireland metaphorically as well as geographically, moving beyond nationalism towards the culturally diverse, beyond a bilingual Ireland to a polyvocal one, beyond the imagined community towards a virtual one, beyond a territorial Ireland to an excentric one. The focus is on outsiders, ranging from Colm Tóibín’s subversion of establishment norms to Paul Muldoon’s immersion in Jewish discourse to John Banville’s extensions of the parameters of Irishness to the Lass of Aughrim finding a new role through her exclusion from the domestic hearth. The contributors to the volume work mainly with poetry and prose fiction, but genres such as autobiography, the essay and song lyrics are also represented.
The issues addressed all look ‘beyond Ireland’. In considering the creative frictions and fictions that result from the dissolving of old loyalties, these essays examine contested concepts such as ‘the nation’, and attempt to shed light on global forces that demand cultural re-definitions and transformations. The world order that let loose the Celtic Tiger has brought, together with a diversified Ireland, new forms of dependence. It is one of the main aims of this book to explore how Irish writers have regarded this diversification and contested that dependence.


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Ruben Moi ‘Drawn by the colour and light’: Ekphrases and Aesthetics in the Poetics of Derek Mahon 181


Ruben Moi ‘Drawn by the colour and light’: Ekphrases and Aesthetics in the Poetics of Derek Mahon Derek Mahon’s fascination with colour and light comes as no surprise to readers of Mahon’s poetry, perhaps the most visual of the contemporary Northern Irish poets. Brilliance and spectrum contribute to the constitu- tion of his poetry. Critical reception ref lects the poet’s interest in interdis- ciplinary interchange. Eamonn Hughes asserts: ‘It is the visual emphasis in Mahon’s work which most immediately marks him as dif ferent’.1 In more pragmatic terms, Stan Smith states: ‘The commonest word in Derek Mahon’s Poems 1962–1978 is “light,”’ and Frank Sewell notes that ‘light’ is ‘mentioned in almost every Mahon poem’.2 Furthermore, numerous poems take specific art works, individual artists and painterly techniques as their subject matter. This ekphrastic quality illuminates Mahon’s poetic achievement and suggests new modes of interpretation. The reception of Mahon’s poetry since Night Crossing, his debut collection in 1968, has been dominated by literary introspection, themes of dis/location and philo- sophical discussion.3 The significance of the ekphrastic and the visual in 1 Eamonn Hughes, ‘“Weird/Haecceity”: Place in Derek Mahon’s Poetry’, Elmer Kennedy-Andrews (ed.), The Poetry of Derek Mahon (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 2002), 99. 2 Stan Smith, Irish Poetry and the Construction of Modern Identity (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2005), 165; Frank Sewell, ‘Derek Mahon: Coming in from the Cold’, Kennedy-Andrews (ed.), The Poetry of Derek Mahon, 190. 3 For typical literary analysis, see Gerald Dawe, ‘Heirs and Graces: The Inf...

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