Knowing One’s Place in Contemporary Irish and Polish Poetry

By | February 27, 2012

I am pleased to tell you about a new publication in comparative literature, which explores themes of belonging—or, more precisely, of not belonging—in contemporary poetry. Knowing One’s Place in Contemporary Irish and Polish Poetry offers both an extended comparative study of the affinities shared by Irish and Polish poetry as well as close readings of Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, Adam Zagajewski and Julia Hartwig.  Ireland and Poland, with their tangled histories of colonization, place a large premium upon knowing one’s place.  But what happens when a poet makes a career out of refusing to know her place in the way her culture expects? Magdalena Kay (University of Victoria, Canada) explores the consequences of this refusal, allowing the above-mentioned poets to respond through their own poems, leading to surprising conclusions about the connection of knowledge and belonging, roots and identity.

An early review:

"Through a careful and extensive examination of both Polish and Irish poetries and their prominent contemporary voices, Magdalena Kay’s book offers excellent insight into the sense of identity and belonging as filtered through poetic meditation.  Her highly nuanced reading, founded on the consequences of history for an individual consciousness and its creative expression, is driven by the imperative of respect for poetic singularity; indeed, seldom does one encounter this kind of synchrony between a critic and a poet.  Her eloquently written and coherently structured book adds a new and original perspective to the emerging field of Irish–Polish comparison." — Bozena Shallcross, Associate Professor of Polish Literature, University of Chicago, USA

Knowing One’s Place in Contemporary Irish and Polish Poetry is available now in North America and will publish elsewhere in April.

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