Boland, Eavan 1944–

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Boland, Eavan 1944–

(Eavan Aisling Boland)

PERSONAL: Born September 24, 1944, in Dublin, Ireland; daughter of Frederick (a diplomat) and Frances (a painter; maiden name, Kelly) Boland; married Kevin Casey (a novelist), 1969; children: two daughters. Education: Trinity College, Dublin, B.A., 1966.

ADDRESSES: Home—Dundrum, Ireland. Office—Department of English, Stanford University, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, lecturer; School of Irish Studies, Dublin, lecturer; Stanford University, Stanford, CA, Bella Mabury and Eloise Mabury Knapp Professor in Humanities and director of creative writing program. Has taught at University College, Dublin, at Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME, at the University of Utah, and as Hurst Professor at Washington University, St. Louis, MO, 1993. Participated in University of Iowa International Writing Program, 1979.

MEMBER: Irish Academy of Letters.

AWARDS, HONORS: Irish Arts Council Macauley fellowship, 1967, for New Territory; Irish American Cultural Award, 1983; Poetry Book Society Choice, 1987, for The Journey, 1990, for Outside History, and 1994, for In a Time of Violence; Lannan Award for Poetry, 1994; American Ireland Fund Literary Award, 1994; Lawrence O'Shaughnessy Award for Poetry, Center for Irish Studies, University of St. Thomas, 1997; Bucknell Medal of Merit, 2000; New York Times notable book designation, 2001, for Against Love Poetry; John William Corrington Award for Literary Excellence, Centenary College of Louisiana, 2002; Frederick Nims Memorial Prize, Poetry, 2002; Smartt Family Prize, Yale Review, for poems in Against Love Poetry. Honorary degrees from University College, Dublin, 1997; Strathclyde University, 1997; Colby College, 1998; and Holy Cross College, 2000.



23 Poems, Gallagher (Dublin, Ireland), 1962.

Autumn Essay, Gallagher (Dublin, Ireland), 1963.

New Territory, Allen Figgis & Co. (Dublin, Ireland), 1967.

The War Horse, Gollancz (London, England), 1975.

In Her Own Image, Arlen House (Dublin, Ireland), 1980.

Introducing Eavan Boland, Ontario Review Press (New York, NY), 1981.

Night Feed, M. Boyars (Boston, MA), 1982.

The Journey, Deerfield Press (Deerfield, MA), 1983.

The Journey and Other Poems, Carcanet Press (Manchester, England), 1987.

Selected Poems, Carcanet Press (Manchester, England), 1989.

Outside History: Selected Poems, 1980–1990, Norton (New York, NY), 1990.

In a Time of Violence, Norton (New York, NY), 1994.

A Dozen Lips, Attic Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1994.

A Christmas Chalice, State University of New York at Buffalo (Buffalo, NY), 1994.

Collected Poems, Carcanet Press (Manchester, England), 1995, published as An Origin like Water: Collected Poems, 1967–1987, Norton (New York, NY), 1996.

Anna Liffey, Poetry Ireland (Dublin, Ireland), 1997.

Limitations, Center for the Book Arts (New York, NY), 2000.

Against Love Poetry, Norton (New York, NY), 2001.

Journey with Two Maps: An Anthology, Carcanet Press (Manchester, England), 2002.

After Every War: Twentieth-Century Women Poets: Translations from the German Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2004.

Work represented in anthologies, including The Observer Arvon Poetry Collection, Guardian Newspapers (London, England), 1994; Penguin Modern Poets, Penguin (London, England), 1995; To Persephone, Wesleyan University Press/New England Foundation for the Arts (Hanover, NH), 1996; The Norton Anthology of Poetry, edited by Margaret Ferguson, Mary Jo Salter, and Jon Stallworthy, Norton (New York, NY), 1998; American's Favorite Poems, edited by Robert Pinsky and Maggie Dietz, Norton, 1999; The Norton Anthology of English Literature, edited by M.H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt, Norton, 1999; The Body Electric: America's Best Poetry from the American Poetry Review, edited by Stephen Berg, David Bonanno, and Arthur Vogelsang, Norton, 2000; The Longman Anthology of Women's Literature, edited by Mary K. Deshazer, Longman (London, England), 2000; The Norton Introduction to Literature, eighth edition, edited by J. Paul Hunter, Alison Booth, and Kelly J. Mays, Norton, 2001; The Longman Anthology of British Literature: The Twentieth Century, edited by David Damrosch, Addison-Wesley Longman, 2002; and Faber Anthology of Irish Verse, Penguin Anthology of Irish Verse, Pan Anthology of Irish Verse, and Sphere Anthology of Irish Verse.


(With Michael MacLiammoir) W.B. Yeats and His World, Thames & Hudson (London, England), 1971, Thames & Hudson (New York, NY), 1986.

The Emigrant Irish, British Council (London, England), 1986.

A Kind of Scar: The Woman Poet in a National Tradition, Attic Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1989.

(With Aileen MacKeogh and Brian P. Kennedy) House, Dublin Project (Dublin, Ireland), 1991.

Gods Make Their Own Importance: The Authority of the Poet in Our Time, Society Productions (London, England), 1994, published as Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet in Our Time, Norton (New York, NY), 1995.

(With Harriet Levin) The Christmas Show, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 1997.

(Editor, with John Hollander) Committed to Memory: One Hundred Best Poems to Memorize, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 1997.

The Lost Land, Norton (New York, NY), 1998.

(Editor, with Mark Strand) The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms, Norton (New York, NY), 2000.

(Editor, with J.D. McClatchy) Horace, The Odes, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2002.

(Editor) Three Irish Poets, Carcanet Press (Manchester, England), 2003.

Regular contributor to Irish Times. Contributor to Irish Press, Spectator, American Poetry Review, and Soundings.

SIDELIGHTS: Over the course of a career that began in the early 1960s, when she was a young wife in Dublin, Eavan Boland has emerged as one of the foremost female voices in Irish literature. Describing those formative years in an interview with Jody Allen Randolph for Colby Quarterly and later included on the Web site of her publisher, Carcanet Press, Boland said, "I began that time watching milk being taken in metal churns, on horse and cart, towards the city center. And I ended it as a married woman, in a flat on Raglan Road, watching this ghostly figure of a man walking on the moon. I suppose I began the decade in a city which Joyce would have recognized, and ended it in one that would have bewildered him."

During this time, Boland honed an appreciation for the ordinary in life, an appreciation reflected in the title of her 2001 collection, Against Love Poetry. "So much of European love poetry," she told Alice Quinn of the New Yorker Online, "is court poetry, coming out of the glamorous traditions of the court…. Love poetry, from the troubadours on, is traditionally about that romantic lyric moment. There's little about the ordinariness of love." Seeking a poetry that would express the beauty of the plain things that make up most people's existence, she found that she would have to create it for herself. It is this "dailiness," as Boland calls it, that reviewers often find, and praise, in her poetry. Frank Allen, in a Library Journal review of Against Love Poetry, wrote, "This volume … dramatizes conflicts between marriage and freedom ('what is hidden in / this ordinary, aging human love')." In her own words, as quoted in Bruce F. Murphy's review of the book in Poetry, Boland wrote Against Love Poetry "to mark the contradictions of a daily love."

Although Murphy noted that Against Love Poetry "is a book that is often less political than it aims to be," Boland does have a political voice. According to Adrian Oktenberg in Women's Review of Books, Boland has "long been acknowledged as an essential political poet." Blending the history of Ireland and its ancient culture, as well as modern politics into her work, she offers a unique perspective on love and marriage, as Oktenberg noted, that is "not merely personal and individual but collective and centuries-long. When she looks at a city, she remembers the forest that preceded it. When she examines couplehood, it is not merely her own and her husband's but those who preceded them by generations, and then further back into legend and myth. When she thinks about politics, it is always in the context of history…. However often Boland looks at the 'burdens of a history,' she rejects the notion that things should necessarily or inevitably remain the same."

In a Time of Violence is a work in which Boland "explores her imaginative re-creations of history," according to Richard Rankin Russell in his review for Explicator. In the poem "Lava Cameo," Boland entwines her personal history with the history of the time, as she relates the relationship between her grandmother and grandfather, beginning from when they met as he disembarked from a ship in Cork Harbour, until their deaths. As Russell noted of the section depicting the grandparents' meeting, "A close reading of this poem illustrates how its subject, tone, sentence structure, and diction enable Boland to imagine this scene, sympathetically write herself into it, and establish a new relationship with her grandparents and her own personal history."

With the themes of feminism and "conflicts between marriage and freedom" recurring in Boland's work, as Ailbhe Smyth stated in her review of Object Lessons for Women's Review of Books, "Boland has given women a new place in Irish poetry…. This rare work expresses the problems and defiances of a poet as a woman seeking truth in her life and career." In the words of Melanie Rehak in the New York Times Book Review, Boland's is a voice "that is by now famous for its unwavering feminism as well as its devotion to both the joys of domesticity and her native Ireland." Boland does not seem to be content, as a poet, to uphold one view of things to the exclusion of all other.

Acknowledgement for Boland's work has been long in coming, but as Randolph noted, that recognition had by the 1990s arrived, and in a big way. Irish students wishing to graduate from secondary school must undergo a series of examinations for what is called the "leaving certificate." The writings of great national poets such as Seamus Heaney are a mandatory part of the leaving exam, and since 1999, would-be graduates are required to undergo examinations in Boland's work as well. Among the more traditional awards Boland has won are the Irish American Cultural Award, the Lannan Award for Poetry, the American Ireland Fund Literary Award, the Lawrence O'Shaughnessy Award for Poetry, the Bucknell Medal of Merit, the Corrington Award for Literay Excellence, the Frederick Nims Memorial Prize, and the Smartt Family Prize.



Adams, Henry, The Education of Henry Adams, introduction by Edmund Morris, Random House (New York, NY), 1999.

Boland, Eavan, In a Time of Violence, Norton (New York, NY), 1995.

Boland, Eavan, An Origin like Water, Norton (New York, NY), 1997.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 40, 1986, Volume 67, 1992.

Coyne, J. Stirling, and N.P. Willis, Scenery and Antiquitites of Ireland, Virtue (London, England), 1840.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 40: Poets of Great Britain and Ireland since 1960, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1985.

Haberstroh, Patricia Boyle, Women Creating Women: Contemporary Irish Women Poets, Syracuse University Press (Syracuse, NY), 1996.


American Poetry Review, September, 1999, review of The Lost Land, p. 7.

Bloomsbury Review, March, 1998, review of Object Lessons, p. 22.

Booklist, March 15, 1994, p. 1322; February 15, 1996, p. 983; October 15, 1998, review of The Lost Land, p. 389; March 15, 1999, review of The Lost Land, p. 1276.

Commonweal, November 4, 1988, p. 595.

Entertainment Weekly, January 15, 1999, review of The Lost Land, p. 58.

Explicator, winter, 2002, Richard Rankin Russell, review of In a Time of Violence, p. 114.

Financial Times, November 1, 2003, Ruth Padel, review of Three Irish Poets: An Anthology, p. 32.

Hudson Review, August, 1999, review of The Lost Land, p. 507.

Irish Literary Supplement, fall, 1994, p. 23; fall, 1995, p. 8; spring, 1996, p. 30; spring, 1999, review of The Lost Land, p. 15.

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 1998, review of The Lost Land, p. 1492.

Library Journal, November 15, 1990, p. 74; March 1, 1994, p. 90; July, 2001, Frank Allen, review of Against Love Poetry, pp. 94-95.

Nation, June 6, 1994, p. 798; April 24, 1995, p. 564.

New Hibernia Review, spring, 2001.

New Statesman & Society, January 26, 1996, p. 40.

New York Review of Books, May 26, 1994, p. 25.

New York Times Book Review, April 21, 1991, p. 40; November 4, 2001, Melanie Rehak, "Map of Love."

Poetry, July, 1990, p. 236; October, 1994, p. 41; February, 1998, review of An Origin like Water, p. 282; March, 2003, Bruce F. Murphy, review of Against Love Poetry, p. 347.

Publishers Weekly, October 26, 1990, p. 62; December 18, 1995, p. 51; August 31, 1998, review of The Lost Land, p. 69.

Southern Review, spring, 1999, review of The Lost Land, p. 387.

Times Literary Supplement, August 5, 1994, p. 19; September 8, 1995, p. 28; December 10, 1999, review of The Lost Land, p. 23.

Women's Review of Books, September, 1995, Ailbhe Smyth, review of Object Lessons, p. 7; April, 1999, review of The Lost Land, p. 17; July, 2003, Adrian Oktenberg, review of Against Love Poetry, p. 36.

Yale Review, July, 1999, review of The Lost Land, p. 167.


Academy of American Poets Web site, (September 18, 2001), "Eavan Boland."

Carcanet Press Web site, (October 16, 2002), Jody Allen Randolph, "A Backward Look: An Interview with Eavan Boland."

Centanary College of Louisiana, Department of English Web site, (July 22, 2004), "Corrington Award."

Galway Arts Center Web site, (July 23, 2004), Michael S. Begnal, "West 47 Critique/Review, Radical Chic."

New Yorker Online, (October 29, 2001), Alice Quinn, "Q&A: The Stoicisms of Love" (interview with Boland). Interactive Learning, (October 16, 2002), "Eavan Boland."