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Eavan Boland

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Eavan Boland
Boland, 1996
Boland, 1996
BornEavan Aisling Boland
(1944-09-24)24 September 1944
Dublin, Ireland
Died27 April 2020(2020-04-27) (aged 75)
Dublin, Ireland
OccupationPoet, author, professor
Alma materTrinity College Dublin
Notable awardsJacob's Award
Kevin Casey
(m. 1969)
RelativesFrederick Boland (father)
Frances Kelly (mother)

Eavan Aisling Boland[1] (/ˈvæn ˈæʃlɪŋ ˈblənd/, ee-VAN;[2] 24 September 1944 – 27 April 2020) was an Irish poet, author, and professor. She was a professor at Stanford University, where she had taught from 1996.[3][4] Her work deals with the Irish national identity, and the role of women in Irish history.[4] A number of poems from Boland's poetry career are studied by Irish students who take the Leaving Certificate. She was a recipient of the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry.

Early life and education


Boland's father, Frederick Boland, was a career diplomat and her mother, Frances Kelly, was a noted painter. She was born in Dublin in 1944.

When she was six, Boland's father was appointed Irish Ambassador to the United Kingdom; the family followed him to London, where Boland had her first experiences of anti-Irish sentiment. Her dealing with this hostility strengthened Boland's identification with her Irish heritage. She spoke of this time in her poem, "An Irish Childhood in England: 1951".

At 14, she returned to Dublin to attend Holy Child School in Killiney.[5] She published a pamphlet of poetry (23 Poems) in her first year at Trinity, in 1962. Boland earned a BA with First Class Honors in English Literature and Language from Trinity College Dublin in 1966.



Teaching and Professorial roles


After graduating, Boland held numerous teaching positions and published poetry, prose criticism and essays. She taught at Trinity College Dublin, University College, Dublin, and Bowdoin College, and was a member of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. She was also writer in residence at Trinity College Dublin, and at the National Maternity Hospital.

In 1969, Boland married the novelist Kevin Casey; they would have two daughters together. Her experiences as a wife and mother influenced her to write about the centrality of the ordinary, as well as providing a frame for more political and historical themes. According to her friend Gabrielle Calvocoressi, she "loved gossip like fish love water".[6]

In the late 1970s and 1980s, Boland taught at the School of Irish Studies in Dublin. From 1996 she was a tenured Professor of English at Stanford University where she was the Bella Mabury and Eloise Mabury Knapp Professor in the Humanities and Melvin and Bill Lane Professor for Director of the Creative Writing program. She divided her time between Palo Alto and her home in Dublin.



Eavan Boland's first book of poetry was New Territory published in 1967 with Dublin publisher Allen Figgis. This was followed by The War Horse (1975), In Her Own Image (1980) and Night Feed (1982), which established her reputation as a writer on the ordinary lives of women and on the difficulties faced by women poets in a male-dominated literary world.

Boland was writer in residence at the National Maternity Hospital, Dublin, in 1994. During this time she composed 'Night Feed' and 'The Tree of Life', and her work remains on a plaque in the hospital garden.[7][8]

Several of her volumes of poetry have been Poetry Book Society Choices in the UK, where she is primarily published by Carcanet Press.[9] In the United States her publisher is W. W. Norton.

Her poem "Quarantine" was one of 10 poems shortlisted for RTÉ's selection of Ireland's favourite poems of the last 100 years in 2015.[10][11]

Former Irish Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, quoted from her poem "The Emigrant Irish" in his address to the joint houses of the US Congress in May 2008.

On 15 March 2016, President Obama quoted lines from her poem "On a Thirtieth Anniversary" (from "Against Love Poetry" 2001) in his remarks at a reception in the White House to celebrate St Patrick's Day.[12]

In March 2018 RTE broadcast a documentary on her life as a poet called "Eavan Boland: Is it Still the Same?".[13] In the same year, Boland was commissioned by the Government of Ireland and the Royal Irish Academy to write the poem "Our future will become the past of other women" to be read at the UN and in Ireland during the centenary commemorations of women gaining the vote in Ireland in 1918.[14][15]

Editing and translating


Boland co-edited The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms (with Mark Strand; W. W. Norton & Co., 2000). She also published a volume of translations in 2004 called After Every War (Princeton University Press). With Edward Hirsch, she co-edited "The Making of a Sonnet: A Norton Anthology of the Sonnet" (W. W. Norton & Co., 2008).



In 1976, Boland won a Jacob's Award for her involvement in The Arts Programme broadcast on RTÉ Radio. Her other awards include a Lannan Foundation Award in Poetry and an American Ireland Fund Literary Award.

Her collection In a Time of Violence (1994) received a Lannan Award and was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize.

In 1997 she received an honorary degree from University College Dublin. She also received honorary degrees from Strathclyde University and Colby College in the US in 1997, and the College of the Holy Cross in 1999. She received one from Bowdoin College in 2004. In 2004 she also received an honorary degree from Trinity College Dublin.

Boland received the Bucknell Medal of Distinction 2000 from Bucknell University, the Corrington Medal for Literary Excellence Centenary College 2002, the Smartt Family prize from the Yale Review and the John Frederick Nims Award from Poetry Magazine 2002.

Her volume of poems Against Love Poetry was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

Her volume Domestic Violence (2007) was shortlisted for the Forward prize in the UK. Her poem 'Violence Against Women' from the same volume was awarded the James Boatwright III Prize for Poetry for the best poem published in 2007 in Shenandoah magazine.

In 2012, Boland won a PEN Award for creative nonfiction with her collection of essays, A Journey With Two Maps: Becoming a Woman Poet published in 2012.

In 2016 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[16] In 2017 she received the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards.[17]

On 25 May 2018 she was elected an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy.[18][19] Boland received the Irish PEN Award for Literature in 2019.[20]

Death and legacy


Boland was writer in residence at the National Maternity Hospital, Dublin, in 1994. During this time she composed 'Night Feed' and 'The Tree of Life', and her work remains on a plaque in the hospital garden.[7][8]

Boland died in Dublin on 27 April 2020, aged 75.[21][22][23][24]

In 2020, Boland was posthumously awarded the Costa Book Award for poetry for her final collection The Historians.[25]







See also


Further reading

  • Allen Randolph, Jody. Eavan Boland. Contemporary Irish Writers. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2014.
  • Allen Randolph, Jody. Eavan Boland: A Sourcebook Manchester: Carcanet Press, 2007.
  • Allen Randolph, Jody. Eavan Boland: A Critical Companion. New York: Norton, 2008.
  • Allen Randolph, Jody, and Anthony Roche, eds. Special Edition: Eavan Boland. Irish University Review 23.1 (Spring/Summer 1993).
  • Allen Randolph, Jody, ed. Special Issue: Eavan Boland. Colby Quarterly 35.4 (Dec. 1999).
  • Haberstroh, Patricia Boyle, Women Creating Women: Contemporary Irish Women Poets. Syracuse University Press (Syracuse, NY), 1996.
  • Hagen, Patricia L., and Thomas W. Zelman. Eavan Boland and the History of the Ordinary. Bethesda, MD: Academica Press, 2004.
  • Müller, Sabina J. Through the Mythographer's eye : Myth and Legend in the work of Seamus Heaney and Eavan Boland. Tübingen : Francke, 2007
  • Villar-Argáiz, Pilar. Eavan Boland's Evolution As an Irish Woman Poet: An Outsider within an Outsider's Culture. Ceredigion, UK: Mellon, 2007.
  • Villar-Argáiz, Pilar. The Poetry of Eavan Boland: A Postcolonial Reading. Bethesda, MD: Academica Press, 2008.
  • Rióna Ní Fhrighil. Briathra, Béithe agus Banfhilí: Filíocht Eavan Boland agus Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. An Clóchomhar: Dublin 2009
  • Allen Randolph, Jody. Eavan Boland (Contemporary Irish Writers). Bucknell University Press, 2013.
  • Campbell, Siobhan, O'Mahony, Nessa (editors):. Eavan Boland: Inside History. Arlen House, 2016, ISBN 978-1-85132-150-6


  1. ^ Eavan Boland, Jody Allen Randolph, Bucknell University Press, 2014, p. xxii
  2. ^ "Eavan Boland - the new documentary celebrating a poetry legend". 6 March 2018 – via www.rte.ie. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ New York Times, "Eavan Boland, ‘Disruptive’ Irish Poet," April 28, 2020 [1]
  4. ^ a b "Eavan Boland". The Poetry Foundation. 2010. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  5. ^ "Eavan Boland obituary: Outstanding Irish poet and academic". Irish Times. 2 May 2020. Archived from the original on 15 May 2020. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  6. ^ Calvocoressi, Gabrielle (May 2020). "Eavan Boland: Beautiful and Complicated and Fierce and Brilliant and Loyal". Lithub. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
  7. ^ a b "One is always drawn into the grief of a family". independent. 25 April 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2022.
  8. ^ a b Boland, Eavan (1994). Night feed. Manchester: Carcanet. ISBN 1-85754-108-1. OCLC 30688701.
  9. ^ "Eavan Boland". Carcanet Press. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  10. ^ "Quarantine". RTÉ – Poem for Ireland. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  11. ^ "A Poem for Ireland: Seamus Heaney poem chosen as Ireland's favourite of past 100 years". independent. 11 March 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  12. ^ "Remarks by President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Prime Minister Kenny of Ireland at St. Patrick's Day Reception". whitehouse.gov. 15 March 2016.
  13. ^ "EAVAN BOLAND: IS IT STILL THE SAME? | RTÉ Presspack". presspack.rte.ie.
  14. ^ "Our future will become the past of other women". Royal Irish Academy. 31 October 2018. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  15. ^ "Eavan Boland Poem". The Irish Times. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  16. ^ "Eavan Boland is elected to the 2016 class of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences | Department of English". english.stanford.edu. 22 April 2016.
  17. ^ "Eavan Boland receives the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award | Department of English". english.stanford.edu. 22 November 2017.
  18. ^ "28 New Members elected to Royal Irish Academy". Royal Irish Academy. 25 May 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  19. ^ "Member Profile: Eavan Boland". Royal Irish Academy. 30 May 2018. Retrieved 20 December 2022.
  20. ^ "Irish PEN Award for Literature". Irish PEN. Retrieved 1 January 2023.
  21. ^ Crowley, Sinéad (27 April 2020). "Poet Eavan Boland dies aged 75". Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ). Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  22. ^ "Poet Eavan Boland passes away aged 75". Irish Examiner. 27 April 2020.
  23. ^ Doyle, Martin (27 April 2020). "Eavan Boland, leading Irish poet and champion of the female voice, dies aged 75". The Irish Times. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  24. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (28 April 2020). "Eavan Boland, 'Disruptive' Irish Poet, Is Dead at 75". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  25. ^ "Eavan Boland scoops Costa Poetry Award for her final book". Dublin City Council. 1 May 2021. Retrieved 20 December 2022.
  26. ^ "Eavan Boland: Selected Bibliography." Eavan Boland: A Critical Companion. New York: W.W. Norton, 2008.