Book Reviews: Do Nuala: Foighne Chrainn; Déithe Teaghlaigh; Nihil Obstat; An Bealach Éadoigh; Feic; Noda; Cros gan Teampall; An Dá Scór; Féar Suaithinseach;.
Poets writing in Irish still find it difficult to avoid giving the impression that collectively they wish to be considered as sufficient unto themselves. By the very fact of writing in a minority language they place themselves in a sort of cultural reservation, at best self-contained, at worst self-regarding, moving in a closed circuit. If fences have been built, it is hardly surprising in the face of the overshadowing sense of threat. Even the natural description 'Irish poetry' is denied to their work, that label having been hijacked by various honest ulstermen and other practitioners of what used to be called Anglo-Irish literature. It is left to some awkard circumlocution such as 'poetry in Irish' to identify their work. The terminology is important, for the word 'Irish has a significantly different meaning in each phrase. 'Irish poetry' indicates the writing of a nation, linked inextricably to the community which engenders it; 'poetry in Irish' suggests an orphan literature, all code and no context. The poets in Irish are not altogether blameless in this situation.
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