Migration and Belonging in Irish Literature and Film
‘Blurt it out like a Polaroid’: Framing Place in the Poetry of Paul Muldoon and Sinéad Morrissey
ABSTRACT This chapter considers how the poets Paul Muldoon and Sinéad Morrissey mobilize a kind of referential switching between linguistic and photographic registers in their writing to engage with the processes of framing and selection that are also intrinsic to literary expression, and poetic discourse in particular. Rather than seeking to display an authority grounded on the seamless vision of the author, they present a self-conscious reflection on the conditional and formative aspects of language and its relation to place.
In his essay on poetry and photography, David Kennedy notes how ‘it is something of a commonplace, in our post-postmodern age, to talk about the slippery unreliability of language; and one wonders whether poems have imagined that the ekphrastic encounter with an image would provide them with something more reliable’.1 The work of a number of contemporary Irish poets, however, manifests an interest in the shared unreliability, or contingency of poetic language and photographic representation – the different ways in which these two media seek to represent the world, and offer us partial and provisional glimpses of the world, are seen to complement each other. If not reliability or truth, the contrasting of these two media with each other may help approach both in a way that least offers some kind of corrective process. Furthermore, both ← 227 | 228 → lyric poetry and photography have developed, altered and questioned our relationship with place in a world which, since the invention of photography in the early nineteenth century, has...
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