Boland, Eavan 1944- (Eavan Aisling Boland)

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Boland, Eavan 1944- (Eavan Aisling Boland)


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


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


Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, lecturer; School of Irish Studies, Dublin, lecturer; Stanford University, Stanford, CA, Bella Mabury and Eloise Mabury Knapp Professor in Humanities, 1995—, and director of creative writing program, 1995-2000, 2002—. Has taught at University College, Dublin, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, and as Hurst Professor at Washington University, St. Louis, MO, 1993. Participated in the University of Iowa International Writing Program, 1979.


Irish Academy of Letters.


Irish Arts Council Macauley fellowship, 1967, for New Territory; Poetry Book Society Choice, 1987, for The Journey, 1990, for Outside History: Selected Poems, 1980-1990, and 1994, for In a Time of Violence; Irish American Cultural Award, 1983; Lannan Award for Poetry, 1994; Irish American Literary Award, 1994; Bucknell Medal of Merit, 2000; Against Love Poetry was selected by the New York Times as a notable book, 2001; Corrington Medal for Literary Excellence, Centenary College, 2002; Frederick Nims Memorial Prize, Poetry, 2002, and Smartt Family Prize, Yale Review, for poems in Against Love Poetry; Forward Prize shortlist, 2007, for Domestic Violence. 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, published as 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.

Code, Carcanet Press (Manchester, England), 2001, published as Against Love Poetry, Norton (New York, NY), 2001.

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

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

New Collected Poems, Carcanet Press (Manchester, England), 2005.

Domestic Violence, Norton (New York, NY), 2007.

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 with the 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 (New York, NY), 1999; The Norton Anthology of English Literature, edited by M.H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt, Norton (New York, NY), 1999; The Body Electric: America's Best Poetry from the American Poetry Review, edited by Stephen Berg, David Bonanno, and Arthur Vogelsang, Norton (New York, NY), 2000; The Longman Anthology of Women's Literature, edited by Mary K. Deshazer, Longman, 2000; The Norton Introduction to Literature, eighth edition, edited by J. Paul Hunter, Alison Booth, and Kelly J. Mays, Norton (New York, NY), 2001; and 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, reprinted, 1986.

The Emigrant Irish, The 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.

Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet in Our Time, Norton (New York, NY), 1995, revised edition, Carcanet Press (Manchester, England), 2006.

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

(Editor, with John Hollander) Committed to Memory: 100 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 and translator) After Every War: Twentieth-Century Women Poets, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2004.

(Editor) Irish Writers on Writing, Trinity University Press (San Antonio, TX), 2007.

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


Over the course of a career that began in the early 1960s, 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 in Colby Quarterly, Boland remarked: "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, writing in the New Yorker, "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 existences, she found that she would have to create it for herself. It is "dailiness," as Boland called it, that reviewers often find, and praise, in Boland's 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’)."

Certainly, "conflicts between marriage and freedom" is a feminist theme, and though Boland has been described as a feminist, her approach is not an overtly political one. Perhaps this is because she is not content, as a poet, to uphold one view of things to the exclusion of all others: hers is a voice, in the words of Melanie Rehak in the New York Times Book Review, "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's 2007 volume, Domestic Violence, examines the relationship "between interpersonal and international violence, and the passive and frightened silences that permit them to continue," noted Booklist critic Patricia Monaghan. In the nine-section title poem, as well as "In Our Own Country" and "Irish Interior," the poet addresses social and cultural concerns in her homeland and "links herself to a national past, even as she interrogates it on feminist and other grounds," observed a Publishers Weekly critic. "The strongest, most vivid poems in this collection," remarked Katie Haegele in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "are the ones that live in the present but come right out and assert that everything we are now comes from everything that went before."

Acknowledgment for Boland's work was long in coming, but as Randolph noted, that recognition has 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.



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), 1994.

Boland, Eavan, An Origin like Water: Collected Poems, 1967-1987, Norton (New York, NY), 1997.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, 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, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1985.

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

Joyce, Weston St. John, The Neighborhood of Dublin, M.H. Gill & Son (Dublin, Ireland), 1939.

Randolph, Jody Allen, Eavan Boland: A Sourcebook, Carcanet Press (Manchester, England), 2007.

Yeats, W.B., Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats, Macmillan (London, England), 1936.


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

Antioch Review, summer, 2005, Alicia Ostriker, review of After Every War: Twentieth-Century Women Poets.

Bloomsbury Review, March, 1998, review of Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet in Our Time, p. 22.

Booklist, October 15, 1998, review of The Lost Land, p. 389; March 15, 1999, review of The Lost Land, p. 1276; October 15, 2004, Patricia Monaghan, review of After Every War, p. 381; February 15, 2007, Patricia Monaghan, review of Domestic Violence, p. 25.

Colby Quarterly, December, 1999, Jody Allen Randolph, "A Backward Look: An Interview with Eavan Boland."

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

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

Irish Literary Supplement, spring, 1999, review of The Lost Land, p. 15.

Irish Times, September 22, 1998, Eileen Battersby, "Interview with Eavan Boland."

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

Library Journal, July, 2001, Frank Allen, review of Against Love Poetry, pp. 94-95; May 1, 2007, Susan Rich, review of Domestic Violence, p. 78.

Nation, June 6, 1994, Jan Garden Castro, review of In a Time of Violence, p. 798; April 24, 1995, Carol Muske, review of Object Lessons, p. 564.

New Statesman & Society, January 26, 1996, Sue Hubbard, "The End of the Pier Show," p. 40.

New Yorker, October 29, 2001, Alice Quinn, "Q&A: The Stoicisms of Love."

New York Times Book Review, November 4, 2001, Melanie Rehak, "Map of Love."

Philadelphia Inquirer, April 29, 2007, Katie Haegele, "An Irish Poet Writes of Her Land," review of Domestic Violence.

Poetry, February, 1998, review of An Origin like Water: Collected Poems, 1967-1987, p. 282.

Publishers Weekly, August 31, 1998, review of The Lost Land, p. 69; January 22, 2007, review of Domestic Violence, p. 162.

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

Times Literary Supplement, December 10, 1999, review of The Lost Land, p. 23.

Women's Review of Books, April, 1999, review of The Lost Land, p. 17.

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


Academy of American Poets, (September 25, 2007), "Eavan Boland."

Carcanet Press, (July 20, 2007), "Interview with Eavan Boland."