In Belfast

Elmer Kennedy-Andrews

in The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Poetry

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199561247
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

In Belfast

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  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)
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In recent years, Ireland/Ulster has undergone rapid changes ranging from urbanisation to the mobility generated by new technology, the influx of foreign investment, and the growth of travel and tourism, all of which developments have eroded traditional cultural values. In Northern Ireland, Edna Longley notes that Louis MacNeice was ‘in the vanguard of absorbing Belfast into English poetry generally’. Ironically, MacNeice cites the countryside as the site of flux and Belfast as the site of stasis. Owing to his cultural complexity, his sceptical intelligence, and his insistence on the primacy of the living word over dogma and abstraction, MacNeice became a figure of special relevance to recent debates about identity and ‘home’ in Northern Ireland. A number of succeeding Northern Irish poets consider him as someone who represents a refreshing and liberating freedom from regional or national definitions of home, a radical challenge to the conventional modes of Irish poetry. In Belfast, the processes of urbanisation, globalisation, and migration have given rise to new relations between rootedness and mobility, local and global, centre and periphery.

Keywords: Belfast; Irish poetry; Northern Ireland; urbanisation; globalisation; mobility; Louis MacNeice

Article.  8042 words. 

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

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