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Eavan Boland has died

Tributes been paid to Irish poet Eavan Boland, who has passed away at the age of 75.

Boland, who was one of Ireland's best-known and most beloved poets, passed away at her home in Dublin on  27 April, following a stroke, her family have said.

Over the course of her long career, Eavan Boland emerged as one of the foremost female voices in Irish literature. Throughout her many collections of poetry, in her prose memoir Object Lessons (1995), and in her work as a noted anthologist and teacher, Boland honed an appreciation for the ordinary in life. Keenly aware of the problematic associations and troubled place that women hold in Irish culture and history, Boland always wrote out of an urge to make an honest account of female experience.

The daughter of a diplomat and a painter, Boland spent her girlhood in London and New York, returning to Ireland to attend secondary school in Killiney and later university at Trinity College in Dublin. Though still a student when she published her first collection, 23 Poems (1962), Boland’s early work was informed by her experiences as a young wife and mother, and her growing awareness of the troubled role of women in Irish history and culture.

I began to write in an Ireland where the word ‘woman’ and the word ‘poet’ seemed to be in some sort of magnetic opposition to each other. Ireland was a country with a compelling past, and the word ‘woman’ invoked all kinds of images of communality which were thought to be contrary to the life of anarchic individualism invoked by the word ‘poet’ … I wanted to put the life I lived into the poem I wrote. And the life I lived was a woman’s life. And I couldn’t accept the possibility that the life of the woman would not, or could not, be named in the poetry of my own nation.
Eavan Boland, in an interview with readers on the website A Smartish Pace

Boland received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Irish Book Awards in 2017 for what was described as her art, her eloquence and her stalwart advocacy for poetry. In recent years, she divided her time between Ireland the US, and was Professor of English and director of the creative writing programme at Stanford University.

Her passing has drawn heartfelt tributes from public figures,colleagues and those whose lives her poetry has touched, including the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins.

He said “With the passing of Eavan Boland Ireland has lost not only an internationally acclaimed poet, distinguished academic and author, but one of the most insightful inner sources of Irish life, not only in life as expressed but as sensed and experienced."

It was her particular gift to reveal the beauty in the ordinary.
President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins on Eavan Boland's passing