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The Leaving of Ireland

Migration and Belonging in Irish Literature and Film


Edited By John Lynch and Katherina Dodou

The Leaving of Ireland brings together an international group of scholars to reflect critically on the unfolding nature of the experience of Irish cultural identity at a time when Ireland is struggling to adjust to the shattering impacts of globalization and religious scandals of recent decades. Looking back over the last two centuries, the volume considers a range of literary and filmic works that have sought to articulate something of this experience and its multiple locations. The essays revisit crucial constituents of Irish history and self-perception at the micro-level, exploring the representation of individual experiences of migration and identification and the definition of a sense of belonging. They also examine these issues at the macro-level, looking at larger politico-historical transformations, national affiliations and changed social and geographical landscapes. The book is organized around key themes including history, mobility, memory and place and addresses the works of a wide range of authors, including Emily Lawless, Frank McCourt, Sinéad Morrissey, Paul Muldoon, Joseph O’Connor, J.M. Synge and W.B. Yeats.
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‘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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