Quote of the Week: Eavan Boland

by Anna Blanch on November 8, 2008

I have been reading quite alot of Irish poetry in the last couple of months, one of the lovely poets I have been exposed to is Eavan Boland.

Her memoir Object Lessons is an extraordinary blend of the real, the factual, and the imagined. Boland is aware of her power to colour the view of the reader.

The way in which Boland acknowledges her fictive construct, the way in which inserted imagined elements into her memoir is captivating:

It is not a long drive. But whatever she saw that morning, it is lost. Whatever that journey yielded – the child with a hoop who never existed, the woman with a red hat I am now inventing – they were her last glimpses of the outside world.

There is a strong sense of the boundaries, what we academic types call liminality, between the author and reality. There is an acknowledgment of the limits of the story and story telling.

This is the way we make the past. This is the way I will make it here. Listening for hooves. Glimpsing the red hat which was never there in the first place. Giving eyesight and evidence to a woman we never knew and cannot now recover. And for all out violations, the past waits for us.

Again and again I visit and reinvent it.

Hers was a real journey. She did not come back. On October 10 she died in the National Maternity Hospital. She was thirty-one years of age. She was my grandmother.

Boland simultaneously owns this story by recognising that she is part of the making of the past.
Boland’s poetry is fascinating and beautiful – her self awareness of her identities as a woman and a poet is fundamentally illuminating. You can find out more about Bomland and read some of her poetry here and here.

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