Article

‘All Livin Language is Sacred’: Poetry and Varieties of English in these Islands

Simon Dentith

in The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary British and Irish Poetry

Published in print September 2013 | ISBN: 9780199596805
Published online December 2013 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199596805.013.008

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

‘All Livin Language is Sacred’: Poetry and Varieties of English in these Islands

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  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)
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“All livin language is sacred”: Poetry and Varieties of English in These Islands’ considers the various uses of non-standard Englishes in contemporary poetry, whether the variety of English be national, regional, class- or ethnically based. It argues that the association of poetry with a prestigious standard form of the language has created particular difficulties for poets who do not speak this variety, and that the record of these difficulties can be found in a number of contemporary poets’ work, especially that by Harrison, Heaney, Leonard, and Nagra. But it also argues that contact with vernacular speech, in many forms, can be a source of poetic energies, and that these are drawn upon in a number of contemporary poets writing in various forms of non-standard English, notably in Scots (arguably a standard variety itself), Ulster Scots, or in the Nation language of dub poetry.

Keywords: language; dialect; register; education; class; poetry; Scottish; Northern Irish; dub poetry; region

Article.  8259 words. 

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

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