Article

‘Neurosis of Sand’: Authority, Memory, and the Hunger Strike

Shane Alcobia-Murphy

in The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Poetry

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199561247
Published online January 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199561247.013.0025

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

‘Neurosis of Sand’: Authority, Memory, and the Hunger Strike

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In 1981, prisoners at the Maze Prison in Belfast, Northern Ireland, staged a hunger strike to protest the British government's criminalisation policy and to demand political status. They released a statement not only to explain and justify the principled motivation for the escalation of their protest but also to reaffirm their authority as political prisoners. The British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, maintained her official position that the prisoners committed criminal murder, criminal bombing, and criminal violence rather than political murder, political bombing, or political violence. Irish poets such as Paul Muldoon, Seamus Heaney, Colette Bryce, and Criostoir O'Flynn wrote poems in response to the hunger strike. This chapter examines how the strike was depicted in Irish poetry.

Keywords: hunger strike; political prisoners; Maze Prison; Northern Ireland; Irish poetry; criminalisastion policy; violence; Paul Muldoon; Seamus Heaney; Colette Bryce

Article.  7730 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (20th Century onwards) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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