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This report is taken from PN Review 231, Volume 43 Number 1, September - October 2016.

At the launch of Paula Meehan’s Imaginary Bonnets with Real Bees in Them

Paula Meehan’s Real Bees
Eavan Boland
At the launch of Imaginary Bonnets with Real Bees in Them by Paula Meehan (UCD Press, Dublin, €20), which took place on 15 June 2016 at the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, Eavan Boland gave the following encomium.


THERE ARE THREE lectures here, given by Paula Meehan during her time as Ireland Professor of Poetry. Each one is complicated by passionate memory and personal honesty.

When I look for words that might draw these lectures together I keep thinking of a single sentence in the second lecture, ‘The Solace of Artemis’. The lecture itself is an ambitious meditation on nature and human nature; on what survives and what is put at risk. At the end of it, Paula imagines herself returning to the child she once was, ready to tell her past self, as consolation and encouragement, something she has learned with time and writing: ‘nothing is ever lost that has made its way into poetry’.

These words summarise the theme of this book. The transfer of experience into language – from memories of childhood, from the city of Dublin itself, from the adventures and trials of the body – all these are made safer because they have found their way towards poetry. What I especially admire here is that the process which describes this transfer – the lectures themselves – has a unique alloy of wisdom and intimacy, managing to give out the quality of a rich private conversation mixed with a real public dignity.

But it also seems to ...


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