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Of Mermaids and Others

An Introduction to the Poetry of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill


Cary A. Shay

This volume is a critical introduction to the poetry of Irish writer Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. Writing poetry exclusively in Irish but allowing and overseeing translations of her work into several languages, primarily English, Ní Dhomhnaill is the first Irish-language poet to gain an international following. She is also a pioneer in fostering a renewed relationship between the two languages of Ireland’s literary traditions. Ní Dhomhnaill is unflinching in her interventions into problematic social, linguistic and even theoretical arenas, and is well known for her brutal parodies, ribald sexual scenarios and persistent debunking and revising of religious, political and mythological imagery. Her primary thematic concerns demonstrate her dedication to critiquing and ultimately changing dominant discourses so that they account for the presence and contributions of women writers. This volume explores the fraught issues of translating and contextualizing Ní Dhomhnaill’s œuvre, her use and revisions of Irish myth, folklore and political and religious iconography, her re-imagining of the mother in culture and religious ideology, and the devices of death, silence and psychoanalytic discourse in her mermaid cycle and other poems. The book hails Ní Dhomhnaill, who has not hitherto received a great deal of critical attention in English, as a major figure in world literature.
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Series index


Modern Poetry

Series editors:

David Ayers, David Herd & Jan Montefiore, University of Kent

The Modern Poetry series brings together scholarly work on modern and contemporary poetry. As well as examining the sometimes neglected art of recent poetry, this series also sets modern poetry in the context of poetic history and in the context of other literary and artistic disciplines. Poetry has traditionally been considered the highest of the arts, but in our own time the scholarly tendency to treat literature as discourse or document sometimes threatens to obscure its specific vitalities. The Modern Poetry series aims to provide a platform for the full range of scholarly work on modern poetry, including work with an intercultural or interdisciplinary methodology. We invite submissions on all aspects of modern and contemporary poetry in English, and will also consider work on poetry in other language traditions. The series is non-dogmatic in its approach, and includes both mainstream and marginal topics. We are especially interested in work which brings new intellectual impetus to recognised areas (such as feminist poetry and linguistically innovative poetry) and also in work that makes a stimulating case for areas which are neglected.

For further details please contact Professor David Ayers (, or Dr David Herd (

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