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Engagements With the Public Sphere in the Poetry of Paul Durcan and Brendan Kennelly

John Redmond

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/9780199561247.013.0026

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Engagements With the Public Sphere in the Poetry of Paul Durcan and Brendan Kennelly

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The first decade of the twenty-first century saw the globalisation of the Irish economy, the secularisation of Irish society, the humiliation of the Catholic Church, the Americanisation of Irish culture, and the (messy) conclusion of the Troubles. This period was also characterised by a modernising wave that began to roll across Ireland at the beginning of the 1960s. Some of the actors in the island's story of modernisation are two poets who surfed in on the revisionist tide: Paul Durcan and Brendan Kennelly. In discussions of Irish poetry, Durcan and Kennelly are often bracketed together not only because they are both well-known public figures in Ireland, but also because they are memorable performers of their own work. Both poets were significantly engaged with the public sphere, although neither has been close to exerting political power. As celebrities who were willing to speak on topical public issues, Durcan and Kennelly faced the risk of being absorbed by Ireland's political class, as is evident in their relationships to Charles Haughey, the country's most significant political figure during the 1980s.

Keywords: modernisation; Ireland; Irish poetry; Paul Durcan; Brendan Kennelly; public sphere; Charles Haughey; political class

Article.  7332 words. 

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

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