More and more, my thesis is coming circling around the issue of tradition and influence for women poets coming from a well established male lineage. There are lots of debates in there – do I take Harold Bloom’s (patriarchal) framework for intra-poetic relationships or Gilbert and Gubar’s feminist (but in places a little flimsy) framework? Can the two differing views be applied together?
Yeats is the poster boy for every other study of influence. After all, he preempted it himself by writing ‘Irish poets, learn your trade / Sing whatever is well made’. Yet, I can’t say I really see the generational transmission so clearly for women poets.
Where I find useful direction in Irish studies, I find the feminist critical view isn’t compatible. For example one text states:
‘In a small country as Ireland with what must necessarily be a tiny literary culture, individual voices are bound to crowd upon one another and the issue of influence may be more immediate than in the broader and more heterogeneous literary circles of Britain and America’
Terence Brown and Gerald Dawe, Tradition and Influence in Anglo-Irish Poetry (1989)
This point is fair, yet nowhere in the text is gender considered. No women poets are looked at and their absence isn’t noted. It is implied that the question of influence and tradition are very male affairs. The question, then, is how to address it now.