Eavan Boland, from ‘Letter to a young woman poet’

“Occasionally I see myself, or the ghost of myself, in the places where I first became a poet. On the pavement just around Stephen’s Green for instance, with its wet trees and sharp railings. What I see is not an actual figure, but a sort of remembered loneliness. The poets I knew were not women: the women I knew were not poets.  The conversations I had, or wanted to have, were never complete.
Sometimes I think of how time might become magical:  How I might get out of the car even now and cross the road and stop that young woman and surprise her with the complete conversation she hardly knew she missed.  How I might stand there with her in the dusk, the way neighbours stand on their front steps before they go in to their respective houses for the night: half-talking and half-leaving.”
– Eavan Boland, from ‘Letter to a young woman poet’

7 thoughts on “Eavan Boland, from ‘Letter to a young woman poet’

  1. Michelle Post author

    Hi Odessa, I also love this paragraph from ‘Letter to a young woman poet’:

    “[…] when I married and had small children, when at last I lived at a distance from any poetic centre, things changed. I started to have an intense engagement with every aspect of writing a poem. So much so, that the boundaries between the edges of the poem and the limits of the world began at times to dissolve. I was fascinated by the page in the notebook on the table, with a child’s cry at its perimeter and the bitterness of peat smoke at its further edge. I loved the illusion, the conviction, the desire – whatever you want to call it – that the words were agents rather than extensions of reality. That they made my life happen, rather than just recorded it happening.”

  2. Julie

    This sentence really struck me: “The poets I knew were not women: the women I knew were not poets.” That was the story of my life as a young poet. How awesome it is to meet you and other women poets here on the net. I love my male mentors (and in many ways, they shaped my style), but I always wondered what I was missing by not having female mentors as well. Beautiful quotes. I love the descriptions, too.

  3. Jo

    Having just spent two days with Louisa and felt such a sense of joy at being with somebody who loves poetry as much as I do, I smiled ruefully at this.

    On another note Eaven Bolland is a new favourite of mine……

  4. Pingback: “Peony Moon” blog publishes section from Eaven Boland’s “Letter to a young woman poet” « interLitQ

  5. Pingback: NPR Books Review: A Woman Without a Country | Amal El-Mohtar

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