Migration and Belonging in Irish Literature and Film
The Importance of Elsewheres and Cities in Paul Muldoon’s Poetry
ABSTRACT This chapter discusses the poetry of Paul Muldoon, examining the notion of ‘elsewheres’ as offering insights into the migration experience that generates a sense of being ‘betwixt and between’ cultures, times and places. Focusing on Belfast, the chapter evaluates the ways in which cities facilitate encounters with the other and in this way lead to a sense of the multiplicities, or indeed, multiple-cities, existing and perhaps conflicting within that place. In a similar way, Muldoon as a poet operates through the other times of affiliated poets such as Larkin, MacNeice, Heaney and Carson. More recently, the financial crisis of 2008 has had a profound effect on the self-perception of Ireland as its belief in the endurance of the new prosperity gave way to fears of the return of emigration and generations lost to economic misery.
Irish literature often offers insights into the human experiences of migration and belonging. Patrick Ward traces this tradition on the island and abroad in Exile, Emigration and Irish Writing (2002).1 Some literature presents these themes as complex and coinciding processes of spatio-temporal immediacy, not as phenomena separate in place and time. Justin Quinn and Tony Murray demonstrate the literature of the complex contemporary condition of transmigratory Irish identity in, respectively, The Cambridge ← 241 | 242 → Introduction to Modern Irish Poetry 1800–2000 (2008) and London Irish Fictions: Narrative, Diaspora and Identity (2012).2 Such imaginings of alternative places, times and lives mark one characteristic feature of the thematic concerns and...
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