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Eavan Boland on Motherhood, Womanhood, and being a Poet

By Harriet Staff

See this article on the Stanford University website, in which poet Eavan Boland talks about her life as a “Woman Poet”:

Although the world of poetry has become much more inclusive than it used to be, Boland said one thing remains the same: “Every young poet has to have the courage of their own experience. That’s never going to change.”

“When I became a mother I felt the powerful necessity of honoring that experience in language, in poetry,” said Boland. “That subject matter wasn’t really sanctioned at that time in Irish poetry – it was thought of as merely domestic, or even less than that, and so I had to find my way to it.”

The “Status of Woman” clause in the Irish Constitution, which clearly defines a woman’s contribution to the state as that of a homemaker, added to the tensions that Boland encountered as a young writer. “The Irish Constitution is one of the very few in Europe that enshrined the woman’s place as being in the home,” she said. Thus, both state and societal expectations made it difficult for her to realize her dream early on.

However, this difficulty is not contained to specifically Irish women, Boland said. “For a lot of young women in my generation, that [tension] boded more difficulty for them to have this interior sense of permission to become the poet they wanted to.” Yet this self-authorization, once confronted, led to a powerful voice. “I learned a lot from thinking that I wanted to put the life I lived into the poem I wrote and … from thinking what would happen if you didn’t do that? You would end up writing someone else’s poem and not honoring the life you lived in terms of creative expression.”

More after the jump.

Posted in Poetry News on Friday, May 18th, 2012 by Harriet Staff.