“I wasn’t a real ole’ journalist at all,” Eavan Boland, poet, said on Nov. 1 at a question-and-answer event. The Dublin, Ireland native, or “Dubliner,” has focused on her country’s strong history and conflicts while writing as a journalist for a while before discovering that poetry was her true calling.
In front of a full room, the poet filled the crowd in on the turmoil which came and went for 20 years for those who were unfamiliar with the situation and her work.
“At that moment, you can see what civil conflict means,” Boland said after telling a story about a church that was having choir practice and prayer when some who had different beliefs came in and shot the churchgoers.
Much of Boland’s work has to do with this turmoil and the famine in Ireland as well. At both the Q&A session and the lecture, the poet read one of her poems called “Quarantine,” a love poem that takes place during the famine when a couple leaves a workhouse to go to their own home and die in the snow. The man had put his wife’s feet on his chest to try to keep them warm while she died of the cold and hunger, giving her the last of his warmth and life as he died in the snow as well.
Boland writes smoothly about humanity, the world in which we live, and also about the “corrosive nature of hatred.” However, poetry is not the only area which Boland has written in.
As mentioned previously, Boland was a journalist.
“I learned to just write it. I became very unsuperstitious about writing in prose,” Boland said regarding the value of this period in her life.
With that being said, Boland was promptly questioned about her choice of style. To this, she only explained that she wasn’t sure there was truly a such thing.
“It’s an interesting question whether you have a style, whether you do it. It’s always hard to know whether what you did worked or if it was a style because the next poem is completely different,” Boland said.
In addition to the deep history lesson and insight into Irish culture, the poet also entertained with her wit and humor.
“The fairies in Ireland, I don’t know who put any of them there… They are horrible little people in little party dresses,” Boland said.
Finally, Boland complimented America and the country’s literature and poetry, slaying stereotypes which state that other cultures hate Americans.
“I think Americans are hugely historically aware, but it’s a different history,” Boland acknowledged.
At the end of the evening, the poet, feminist, journalist and Stanford professor signed copies of her book, and reminded her audience (aspiring writers and others present) that “you make so many mistakes in poetry, and then you have to live with them when the book comes out.”