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This article is taken from PN Review 220, Volume 41 Number 2, November - December 2014.

In the Suburbs of Modernism Sandra M. Gilbert

Not suddenly then, but definitely and gradually, a place I lived became a country of the mind. Perhaps anywhere I had grown used to, raised my children in, written my poetry about would have become this. But a suburb by its very nature – by its hand to mouth compromises between town and country – was particularly well suited to the transformation.
                              – Eavan Boland, ‘The Woman, the Place, the Poet’

In the late eighties, I went to lecture at the Yeats International Summer School, where I was thrilled by the company of brilliant colleagues and delighted to visit the sacred Yeatsian sites – Knocknarea, the Lake Isle of Innisfree, Thoor Ballylee – to which my husband and I had also made a pilgrimage a decade earlier. I still remember how everyone in the town of Sligo seemed to me to be literary, and in particular how there was such an overflowing audience for a reading by Seamus Heaney that we ‘faculty’ had to sit on stage, behind the great poet, so we couldn’t see his face as he read. But another memory catches me too. One night in the pub to which we all retired after the evening’s public events, I was approached by a vivid woman who introduced herself as a poet, and eagerly began to discuss feminist theory with me. She was Eavan Boland, a writer whose art and thought I would come to value deeply within the decade, although I didn’t yet know much about her work.

I’ve only met Eavan in person a few times over the ...


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