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Lecture ‘The Art of Grief’: Irish Women Poets’ Explorations of Loss and Healing“ | 19 May, 4 p.m. | Aud. 3 FLUL


Date: 19 May, 4 p.m.
Venue: Faculty of Letters, University of Lisbon, Auditorium 3
Organisation: ULICES
Sponsor: Embassy of Ireland in Portugal

ULICES Research Group 4 – Other English-speaking Literatures and Cultures invites you to attend the Embassy of Ireland Lecture 2015.

Guest speaker: Dr. Catriona Clutterbuck (University College Dublin)

Title: ‘The Art of Grief’: Irish Women Poets’ Explorations of Loss and Healing“


‘The Art of Grief’: Irish Women Poets’ Explorations of Loss and Healing

Irish Women Poets are justly celebrated for their work in bringing unspoken aspects of human experience from outside to inside history. One of the most important of these is loss arising from bereavement, exile and injustice. Contemporary Irish women poets both follow on from and challenge their predecessor W.B Yeats in exploring the conditions and complications of loss. Their work attends to immediate and personal as well as communal and trans-generational grief, teasing out the tensions and links between these. The intersections between private and public grief are particularly important in a country where the legacies of colonialism and of later social, economic and religious oppression, still cast a shadow. The more recent phenomena of the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger, and Ireland’s present focus on austerity, arguably have extended rather than dissipated this shadow. In this regard, Irish women poets’ work on loss communicates the importance of mourning for the unlived or broken lives of Irish people, and of the nation itself. Their work further suggests that such acts of mourning are the seedbeds of vital critical resistance to cultures of life-denial.

This lecture traces women poets’ visitation to underworlds of grief in Irish culture, the silencing of which becomes a form of violence in itself. They explore the possibility of healing from inside that dark experience, suggesting that creative empowerment of self and others arises through facing up to and into loss: in Kerry Hardie’s words, they recognize that “death pushes us deeper into our lives”. This lecture examines the theme of loss in some of the most senior living Irish women poets, including Eavan Boland, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Medbh McGuckian, Paula Meehan, Moya Cannon and Kerry Hardie. It explores their awareness of the radical alterity associated with death, and its potential for opening up spaces for new and more response-able thinking in the living.

Bio note

Dr. Catriona Clutterbuck lectures in the School of English, Drama and Film at University College Dublin. She specializes in the areas of poetry and poetics as well as contemporary Irish writing in English. Her research focuses on contemporary Irish poetry, with broader interests in women writers; gender and subjectivity; the coding of politics and ethics through the creative impulse; faith concepts and expressions; aesthetics and artifice in modern literature; the poetics of mourning; and Irish literary and critical cultures. She has published essays on Seamus Heaney, Eavan Boland, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Medbh McGuckian, Thomas Kinsella, and Vona Groarke, among others.


Embassy of Ireland Lectures

Launched by H. E. Ambassador James Brennan after his visit to the Faculty of Letters, University of Lisbon, in May 2008, to address students enrolled in the recently created curricular unit on Irish Literature and Culture, the Embassy of Ireland Lectures have brought to Portugal distinguished Irish writers.


University of Lisbon Centre for English Studies (ULICES)