Jody Allen Randolph:
One of the things that really strikes me about your generation of Irish poets is the strong ‘we’, even though you were a very diverse group of poets from different backgrounds. I have heard American poets speak of their poetic communities as primarily vertical, but your generation had a very strong horizontal dynamic. How important was that to your developing sense of yourself as a poet?
Belfast has been called ‘the armpit of Europe’, ‘a cultural Siberia’: not somewhere you would expect to produce a flurry of poetry. Perhaps ‘we’ registers the relief of embattled aesthetes who have come through. ‘We’ also implies that imagination and creativity dissolve what is called here ‘the sectarian divide’ […] ‘We’ in my book now includes the astonishing next generation of Muldoon, Carson, McGuckian, Ormsby and brilliant younger poets such as Sinead Morrissey and Leontia Fynn.
Jody Allen Randolph, ‘Michael Longley in Conversation with Jody Allen Randolph’, The Poetry Ireland Review, 79 (2004), pp. 78-89
The generational hierarchy is nowhere so clearly defined as in Northern Ireland, probably due to the sheer number of poets in that 1960s generation who all started publishing within a few years of each other. The coherence of shared backgrounds can be illusory though – the departures from ‘we’ are more interesting to me than the parallels.