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Eavan Boland interrogates identity and nationhood in new collection

February 26, 2015

By Erik Fredner

In her latest book of poetry, A Woman Without a Country, English Professor Eavan Boland draws on decades of thinking, reading and writing about subjects like nation and gender to help give voice to those who have been silenced in the official record of history.

Though she was born and educated in Dublin, and raised her family there, Eavan Boland also lived in the United States and in London as a child. Her latest volume of poetry, A Woman Without a Country, engages some of the contrasts and contradictions that come from living in a place without feeling that one fully belongs to it. As she puts it in the book, "This sequence is dedicated to those who lost a country, not by history or inheritance, but through a series of questions to which they could find no answer."

Since publishing her first volume of poetry in 1962, Boland has become a leader among Irish women poets, a process she described in an interview with the Poetry Foundation as challenging, "in an Ireland where the word 'woman' and the word 'poet' seemed to be in some sort of magnetic opposition to each other."

By complicating issues of nation and gender, A Woman Without a Country takes a new approach to themes that have been points of departure and return in Boland's poetry throughout her career.

In this interview with Stanford News Service, Boland, the Melvin and Bill Lane Professor and director of Stanford's Creative Writing Program and the Bella Mabury and Eloise Mabury Knapp Professor in Humanities, describes her latest work, shares aspects of her writing process and discusses her relationship to the question of identity.