Honouring Eavan Boland – #lettersfromladyn

WP_20171122_005Thrilled to hear that Eavan Boland will receive a Bob Hughes Achievement Award at the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards next week.

I first came across Eavan Boland in my twenties while working on a ‘feminist’ thesis (in the area of business) and as a hidden poet.

The outcome my  thesis supervisor –  who had asked me to pursue the ‘research question’ – clearly expected me to find was that while there were unmistakely statistically very few women in management roles in Irish industry at the time, this was due either to the normal course of events or if, in the offchance there was a problem, it was the fault of women. I know I don’t need to specify the gender of this, my ‘first’, supervisor. I found a rather more complex picture – and subsequently a new supervisor.

I found both Eavan Boland’s poems and her critique in the journal section of the Boole Library in UCC. It’s funny how a person could get diverted from ‘Strategic Managment Monthly’ and the HBR…

in any case, I had, and still have, massive admiration for her speaking truth to power about the unfairness inherent in the differential reception of men’s and women’s poetry, while at the same time having a buoyant practice and a lifetime commitment to creating poetry which has both something integrous to say to people’s lives and is rigourously composed to a fluid standard of the best of what poetry can be. Some of my favourite poems have been composed by her.

I was thrilled when she became guest editor of Poetry Ireland Review and have loved these editions. I was also delighted to find, which I didn’t know, that she had been involved in the development of Arlen Press which has recently returned and is beginning to have quite an impact on women’s poetry here in Northern Ireland very recently.

I worry a bit about lifetime awards and adulations as there is a sense that people are on the one hand being feted and on the other being put out to pasture. But in this case, I have no worry. This woman will keep her own counsel. May she flourish.

 

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