This is an innovative and accessible study of contemporary Northern Irish poetry in the light of current debates about post-modernism, poetry and politics, and the figure of woman in Irish political discourse. Close readings of the work of Tom Paulin, Medbh McGuckian, and Paul Muldoon focus on the `improper' elements of the poetry: the refusal of a sense of home, the disruption of `traditional' poetic form, and the sexual narratives told.The
intersections between post-modern literary form and post-coloniality are currently a focus of intense concern, but they have rarely been addressed in the context of Irish culture. Clair Wills focuses
on Northern Irish poetry in her exploration of the complex relationship between an `international' poetic form and its national context. She assesses the relation between poetry and politics in Ireland; the limits of `Enlightenment' and `Romantic' influences on Irish culture; the nature of political violence; femininity in Irish political discourse; and the division between public and private spheres of activity. These discussions culminate in extended analyses of the work of Paulin,
McGuckian, and Muldoon, showing that their work cannot be understood without a redefinition of the relationship between poetry and politics.Improprieties is a much-needed evaluation of
Northern Irish poetry, distinguished by its critical sophistication and lucid readings of three notoriously complex but hugely important poets.
'Wills's book touches on areas of importance for readers of what might be called the post-Heaney generation of Northern Irish poets, and it airs problems about the place of the feminine or the private in this work which could be of some significance.'
Peter McDonald, Irish Review