A kind of research diary…

I’m going to try a running blog from my seat here in the Lower Reading Room of the Bod so I can effectively look back and see what in particular catches my eye during the course of one day.

I won’t be doing this every day – but now and again it is a useful exercise in time management. The Humanities Division training provided a template sheet to note how you spend your day, but this is more useful for me.


10.30am
Edna Longley, ‘”Altering the past”: Northern Irish Poetry and Modern Canons’, The Yearbook of English Studies, 35, (2005), pp. 1-17.

‘”Poetries” is itself political’ (p. 1)

‘There is a long-standing joke about the “Belfast School of Criticism” with its finely nuanced discriminations: “shite, dog-shite, mad-dog shite”.’ (pp. 1-2). – This might make my thesis considerably easier.

Refers to a 1907 Yeat’s essay, ‘Poetry and Tradition’. This could provide an interesting definition of tradition. (pp. 2-3)

‘Corcoran’s ‘oblique angle’ suggests one reason why such a range of poets excited Heaney, Mahon, and Longley in the early I96os. Most first collections bear the traces of ‘strong precursors’, but aspiring poets from rural Derry in Belfast, or from provincial Belfast in Dublin, poets exposed at university to Eng. Lit., French Lit., or Classical Lit., might indeed take a pick ‘n’ mix attitude to tradition.’ (p. 5) – Precisely my underlying point, only applied to a set of poets in/from a different context.

‘Overall, as he moves on from juvenilia, each Northern Irish poet seems engaged in a tripartite “conversation” with Irish, British, and American precursors’. (p. 5). – emphasis mine.

‘Whether explicitly or not, criticism of Northern Irish poetry already talks about coterie. What may be missed is that where coterie is most dynamic, it fosters difference rather than sameness: aesthetic sibling-differentiation across the field. But if coterie intensifies individuality, it also deepens intertextuality.’ (p. 13)

‘I suggest, then, that Northern Irish poetry collectively dramatizes the protean nature of form as it remakes tradition’ (p. 16)

Overall – this essay is interesting to me from a few angles. First off, it is obviously a useful introduction to the existing critical field on the previous generation of Northern Irish poets. Perhaps more interestingly is the concepts it explores relating to ‘groups’ of poets, ‘tradition’ and even ‘form’. What Longley says is sound criticism – and I can already see how this could be taken further by applying it to women poets.

11.30am
I would quite like a cup of tea now, but instead I will start trawling through Poets from the North of Ireland for evidence of women’s presence. Broadly, this isn’t difficult since ratio is 1 woman/26 men.

George Buchanan’s ‘War-and-Peace’ states that peace is ‘life arranged for academic study, isolated, sub-/ divided, known, a subject on which x and y / may be taken as the recognised authorities.’

Sometimes I think that to do feminist readings of poems you have to almost think like the worst kind of patriarch.

12.45pm
Lunch time

2.15pm
Read some online blogs on PG research thanks to links posted on a social network by someone from my old institution. I spent the most time on The Thesis Whisperer.

2.30pm
Reading John Hewitt selection in Poets from the North of Ireland.

Haven’t really found much to comment on, except that he is almost totally unengaged with any presentation of femininity. Until Sonnets for Roberta which is very interesting in terms of subjectivity and form.

4.00pm
Louis MacNeice – what a great poet.

From a gender angle, ‘Autobiography’ is probably the most interesting since ‘My father made the walls resound, / He wore his collar the wrong way round’ and ‘My mother wore a yellow dress; / Gentle, gently, gentleness’.

5.00pm
Off to a research seminar on ‘Comparative Literature Then and Now’ in New College.

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