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Categories: 21st Century, American, Irish, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (80 pages)
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Winner of the Costa Poetry Award 2020
A Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year 2020
A Guardian Book of the Year 2020
A Sunday Independent Book of the Year 2020
An Irish Times Book of the Year 2020
A forceful and moving final volume from one of the most masterful poets of the twentieth century.
Throughout her nearly sixty-year career, acclaimed poet Eavan Boland came to be known for her exquisite ability to weave myth, history, and the life of an ordinary woman into mesmerizing poetry. She was an essential voice in both feminist and Irish literature, praised for her 'edgy precision, an uncanny sympathy and warmth, an unsettling sense of history' ( J.D. McClatchy). Her final volume, The Historians, is the culmination of her signature themes, exploring the ways in which the hidden, sometimes all-but-erased stories of women's lives can powerfully revise our sense of the past.
Two women burning letters in a back garden. A poet who died too young. A mother's parable to her daughter. Boland listens to women who have long had no agency in the way their stories were told; in the title poem, she writes: 'Say the word history: I see / your mother, mine. / ... Their hands are full of words.' Addressing Irish suffragettes in the final poem, Boland promises: 'We will not leave you behind', a promise that animates each poem in this radiant collection. These extraordinary, intimate narratives cling to the future through memory, anger, and love in ways that rebuke the official record we call history.
Awards won by Eavan Boland Winner, 2020 Costa Poetry Award
(The Historians) Winner, 2017 Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award
'...She has a dazzling gift for marrying the poem's narrative to its underlying considerations and themes, her carefully enacted restraint heightening the impact of the frequently stunning closing image.''The poems, all of them, have that familiar, spare, feel to them - the clarity of cold water, the measured cadence, the plain diction and the leaping insight so characteristic of her mature work - but there is grief here of a depth and of a kind that chills the heart... against the darkness that eddies and gathers in this, the last book we will have from her hand, there is indeed redemptive light'
Maya C. Popa, Poetry Review
Theo Dorgan, Dublin Review of Books
'This is a fitting tribute to a poet whose work has revised history as we know it and whose talent will be much missed.''The first poem in Boland's book, The Fire Gilder, is one of the best Irish poems of the past half-century.'
Poetry Book Society Winter Bulletin
Colm Tóibín, The Irish Times
'Truly consumable, enjoyable and emotive... all the things that great poetry should be.'
Jasmine Reads, YouTube
'[The Historians] zooms in with characteristic musicality and intelligence on what the stories that are often overlooked - those of women'
Rishi Dastidar, The Guardian Poetry Books of the Year 2020
'It is, as came to be expected from Boland, filled with stories of ordinary Irish women, sensitively rendered in her understated verse. In revisiting the otherwise erased experiences of her subjects, Boland asks us to reconfigure our own understanding of the past, though she acknowledges the difficulties of that, too'
The New Statesman
'There's a poignancy here that is hard to avoid... This modest collection is welcome and those who have not read Boland - few though they may be - will find here at least an introduction to her always-potent art. For others, it will serve as a coda to a poetic life well lived.'
Books Ireland Magazine
'It feels, reading it in the wake of her death, to be unsettlingly prophetic, a fitting close to the life's work of a great poet'
Seán Hewitt, The Irish Times
Praise for Eavan Boland '... a rich, unsettling moral adventure in memory and responsibility.'
Eavan Boland's A Journey with Two Maps: Becoming a Woman Poet contains essays both personal and public written in a tone urgent and wise, with astute observations on her own trajectory as a poet and the work of Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath and Paula Meehan, among others.
Colm Toibin, The Irish Times, Our Favourite Books of 2011
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