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

Introduction Jody Allen Randolph
Two aspects of this special supplement on Eavan Boland’s work seem especially worth noting. The first is self-evident. It is the achievement of Eavan Boland as poet, essayist and maker of a critique that has reshaped Irish literature and is influencing a global conversation about women poets emerging from resistant traditions. The second aspect is more general and less visible. It is the changing conversation about poetry in our time: the ways in which ‘an apparently monolithic poetic past’, as Boland described it in A Journey With Two Maps, has become a conversation that readers can ‘join and change’. I have followed both Boland’s work and this evolving conversation for the best part of thirty years, from Carcanet’s publication of The Journey to its release this month of her eleventh volume of poems, A Woman Without a Country. Illuminating exchanges over those years with Michael Schmidt about this singular progress led to our collaboration on this special supplement.

The growth and achievement of Boland’s poetry over five decades is by now a well-known story. This special supplement tracks the consistency of her themes and ambitions at both ends of this spectrum. It includes her most recent and best work – the title sequence of her upcoming volume A Woman Without a Country, as well as an essay by the same title in which she challenges us to rethink not the contemporary poem but the moral responsibility of the reader. But it also looks back at Boland’s beginnings as a poet. In an essay on her debut volume, ...


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