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This interview is taken from PN Review 93, Volume 20 Number 1, September - October 1993.

in Conversation with Eavan Boland Allen-Randolph Jody

You were born in Dublin. You lived the formative years from six to twelve in London. Then you lived in New York for a few years, and returned to Dublin in your mid-teens. Your father was a diplomat and your mother a painter. Were there any elements there which particularly formed you as a poet?


My childhood, certainly in the London years, wasn't happy. That isn't to say it wasn't a privileged childhood, because it was. But it was fictional and desolate in an odd way. We lived in the Irish Embassy. My parents were two hard-working and very engaging people. My mother especially was a most imaginative and loving woman. She had a very unusual feeling towards the inner world of a child. She was the first person, for instance, to talk to me about poetry. Nevertheless here was this huge, compartmentalized house. And I felt thoroughly displaced in it. I never believed I belonged there. I never felt it was my home. Some of the feelings I recognize as having migrated into themes I keep going back to - exile, types of estrangement, a relation to objects -began there.

Your parents came from two sharply differentiated worlds. Did that matter?


There was certainly a great difference between my parents. My father had a superb intelligence, but it was a rational one. My mother was drawn to quite different things. Her father was a sea-captain. He drowned in the Bay of Biscay. ...


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