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In a 1984 lecture on poetry and political violence, Seamus Heaney remarked that "the idea of poetry was itself that higher ideal to which the poets had unconsciously turned in order to survive the demeaning conditions." Jonathan Hufstader examines the work of Heaney and his contemporaries to discover how poems, combining conscious technique with unconscious impulse, work as aesthetic forms and as strategies for emotional survival.
In his powerful study, Hufstader shows how a number of contemporary Northern Irish poets-- including Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, Michael Longley, Paul Muldoon, Tom Paulin, Ciarán Carson and Medbh McGuckian--explore the resources of language and poetic form in their various responses to cultural conflict and political violence. Focusing on both style and social contexts, Hufstader explores the tension between solidarity and art, between the poet's need to belong and to rebel. He believes that an understanding of the power of lyric points towards an understanding of the source of social violence, and of its cessation.
Jonathan Hufstader is assistant professor of English at the University of Connecticut.
"Hufstader’s own elegant writing conveys some of the lyric power found in the poetry."—Choice
"Ambitious, provocative, and ultimately disturbing. . . . Should ignite lively debate in the years to come."—Irish Literary Supplement
"A searching, honest, and impressive analysis of some of the best poetry written in the English language in our time."—Jonathan Allison, series editor
"Shows how a number of contemporary Northern Irish poets—Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, Michael Longley, Paul Muldoon, Tom Paulin, Ciaran Carson, and Medbh McGuckian—explore the resources of language and poetic form in their various responses to cultural conflict and political violence."—McCormick Messenger
"Successfully repositions the focus onto the poetry rather than the historical forces working around the poetry."—South Atlantic Review
The University Press of Kentucky
Place of Publication
Northern Ireland, Seamus Heaney, Northern Irish poetry
Literature in English, Anglophone outside British Isles and North America
Hufstader, Jonathan, "Tongue of Water, Teeth of Stones: Northern Irish Poetry and Social Violence" (1999). Literature in English, Ireland. 6.