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Irish Poet Eavan Boland Discusses “Domestic Violence: Poems” as Part of the 10th Annual Villanova Literary Festival

Poet, Eavan Boland
Poet, Eavan Boland

By Margaux Kay LaPointe, '11

As part of the 10th Annual Literary Festival, Irish poet Eavan Boland delivered a lecture on Thursday, Feb. 21, entitled “Domestic Violence: Poems,” which was co-sponsored by the English and Irish Studies departments. Boland read and explained excerpts from her books including Domestic Violence, her most recent collection of poetry published in 2007.

Boland was born in Dublin, Ireland. Her poetry speaks to both national identity and gender. Currently, she is a professor of creative writing at Stanford University.

“The thing which probably influenced me most…was the huge difference between history and past,” Boland said. She explained that history contains the heroes, while past contains “shadows, whispers, and people who would have never made history.” She chose to focus on the past.

Boland’s readings included a prose selection about her grandmother and a poem about famine roads. These roads were unfinished because the builders had to work for food. Without food, they died from famine and exhaustion. Explaining why she wrote this particular poem, Boland said, “I wanted to write that poem about what we don’t know and haven’t heard.”

Some of her other poems focus specifically on the loss of the past. “Amber,” for example, explained the memories held only in amber. The poem “Atlantis” was about Dublin and how it is “hard to see the city that existed,” since it has been covered by new prosperity, Boland said.

Boland said that her favorite job was as the ‘poet in residence” at the National Maternity Hospital in 1994 during its centennial. Here, she wrote ‘The Pomegranate.” Like many of the poems she read, this combined myth and her personal life. She applied the Greek myth of Persephone in Hades to her daughter’s growth from a child into a teenager able to make her own choices.

When asked about her frequent combination of myth and past, Boland explained that myth is the “instinctive reaction of people” about the world. However, she said, it shelters things. By adding the past, Boland said that she creates “sometimes a brutal narrative.” In addition to being ornamental, Boland strives to make her poetry connect to people and their lives.

Other poems that Boland read included “Quarantine,” “Love,” and “A Glass King.”

Margaux Kay LaPointe, ’11, is a first-year student from Lebanon, Pa. She is an intern in the Office of Communications in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University. Margaux plans on majoring in communication with a specialization in public relations.

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Jennifer Schu

Director of Communications, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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