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About this poet

Eavan Boland was born in Dublin, Ireland, on September 24, 1944. Her father was a diplomat and her mother was an expressionist painter.

At the age of six, Boland moved with her family to London, where she first encountered anti-Irish sentiment. She later returned to Dublin for school, and she received her B.A. from Trinity College in 1966. She was also educated in London and New York.

Boland's poetry collections include A Poet's Dublin (Carcanet Press, 2014), A Woman Without a Country (W. W. Norton, 2014), New Collected Poems (W. W. Norton, 2008), An Origin Like Water: Collected Poems 1967-1987 (W. W. Norton, 1996), and In Her Own Image (Arien House, 1980).

In addition to her books of poetry, Boland is also the author of the essay collection A Journey with Two Maps: Becoming a Woman Poet (W. W. Norton, 2011), which won the 2012 PEN Award; Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet in Our Time (W. W. Norton, 1995), a volume of prose; and After Every War(Princeton, 2004), an anthology of German women poets. With Mark Strand, she co-edited The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms (W. W. Norton, 2000).

Boland's awards include a Lannan Foundation Award in Poetry, an American Ireland Fund Literary Award, a Jacob’s Award for her involvement in The Arts Programme broadcast on RTÉ Radio, and an honorary degree from Trinity. A member of the American Academy of Arts & Science, she has taught at Trinity College, University College, and Bowdoin College, among others. She is also a regular reviewer for the Irish Times.

Boland is currently a professor of English at Stanford University, where she directs the creative writing program. She lives in California with her husband, the author Kevin Casey, and their two daughters.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

A Poet's Dublin (Carcanet Press, 2014)
A Woman Without a Country (W. W. Norton, 2014)
New Collected Poems (W. W. Norton, 2008)
Domestic Violence (W. W. Norton, 2007)
Against Love Poetry (W. W. Norton, 2001)
The Lost Land (W. W. Norton, 1998)
An Origin Like Water: Collected Poems 1967-1987 (W. W. Norton, 1996)
In a Time of Violence (W. W. Norton, 1994)
Outside History: Selected Poems 1980-1990 (W. W. Norton, 1990)
The Journey and Other Poems (Carcanet Press, 1986)
Night Feed (M. Boyars, 1982)
In Her Own Image (Arien House, 1980)

Prose

A Journey with Two Maps: Becoming a Woman Poet (W. W. Norton, 2011)
The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms (with Mark Strand; W. W. Norton, 2000)
Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet in Our Time (W. W. Norton, 1995)

Domestic Violence

               1.

It was winter, lunar, wet. At dusk
Pewter seedlings became moonlight orphans.
Pleased to meet you meat to please you
said the butcher's sign in the window in the village.

Everything changed the year that we got married.
And after that we moved out to the suburbs.
How young we were, how ignorant, how ready
to think the only history was our own.

And there was a couple who quarreled into the night,
Their voices high, sharp:
nothing is ever entirely
right in the lives of those who love each other.

               2.

In that season suddenly our island
Broke out its old sores for all to see.
We saw them too.
We stood there wondering how

the salt horizons and the Dublin hills,
the rivers, table mountains, Viking marshes
we thought we knew
had been made to shiver

into our ancient twelve by fifteen television
which gave them back as gray and grayer tears
and killings, killings, killings,
then moonlight-colored funerals:

nothing we said
not then, not later,
fathomed what it is
is wrong in the lives of those who hate each other.

             3.

And if the provenance of memory is
only that—remember, not atone—
and if I can be safe in
the weak spring light in that kitchen, then

why is there another kitchen, spring light
always darkening in it and
a woman whispering to a man
over and over what else could we have done?

               4.

We failed our moment or our moment failed us.
The times were grand in size and we were small.
Why do I write that
when I don't believe it?

We lived our lives, were happy, stayed as one.
Children were born and raised here
and are gone,
including ours.

As for that couple did we ever
find out who they were
and did we want to?
I think we know. I think we always knew.

From Domestic Violence (W. W. Norton, 2007). Copyright © 2007 by Eavan Boland. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. and Carcanet Press.

From Domestic Violence (W. W. Norton, 2007). Copyright © 2007 by Eavan Boland. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. and Carcanet Press.

Eavan Boland

Eavan Boland

Eavan Boland was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1944. One of Ireland's preeminent contemporary poets, she is the author of A Poet's Dublin (Carcanet Press, 2014) and A Women Without a Country (W. W. Norton, 2014), among others.

by this poet

poem

And when I take them out of
the cherrywood box these beads are
the colour of dog-violets in shadow. Then
at the well of the throat where
tears start
they darken. Now I wear at my neck an old stress
of crystal: an impression of earthly housekeeping.
A mysterious brightness
poem
The only legend I have ever loved is
the story of a daughter lost in hell.
And found and rescued there.
Love and blackmail are the gist of it.
Ceres and Persephone the names.
And the best thing about the legend is
I can enter it anywhere.  And have.
As a child in exile in
a city of fogs and strange consonants,
I
poem
How on earth did it happen, I used to wonder
that a whole city—arches, pillars, colonnades, 
not to mention vehicles and animals—had all 
one fine day gone under?

I mean, I said to myself, the world was small then.
Surely a great city must have been missed?
I miss our old city —

white pepper, white pudding,