Historical Memory 2: Fired! Irish Women Poets And The Canon by Dick Edelstein

Fired! Irish Women Poets and the Canon | Published / Digitised / Open Access / Survey / 3 Quarks Daily |
photographic image of Irish-American poet Lola Ridge

photographic image of Irish-American poet Lola Ridge

The Founding of the Fired! Movement

Fired! Irish Women Poets and the Canon is a collective that became publicly known in 2017. It emerged from discussions among a group of women of varied backgrounds in both Northern Ireland and the Republic who shared a common interest in the status of women in the arts, and it was launched in response to the publication of the current edition of the Cambridge Companion to Irish Poetry, an authoritative compendium that is re-published periodically in updated editions.

The exclusion of women in that volume and others like it was neither remarkable nor novel; what was noteworthy on this occasion was the existence of a body of recently published research on the careers of a number of successful Irish women poets in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. (A notable example is Poetry by Women in Ireland: A Critical Anthology 1870-1970 by Dr. Lucy Collins.) This research brought to light the poetry of several Irish women who had enjoyed important reputations in the past. The Cambridge volume ignored this research, and just four of its thirty chapters were devoted to female writers, while only four female critics had been commissioned to provide chapters.

 

The Fired! Pledge

The response was the launch of Fired! Irish Women Poets and the Canon through two lines of action: a pledge aimed at redressing the gender imbalance in Irish poetry and a series of readings throughout Ireland and abroad to focus attention on historical Irish women poets.

The pledge was a simple document. The text in full reads as follows:

I pledge henceforth to withdraw my participation from publications, edited collections, conferences, festivals and other projects which do not make what I consider to be a good-faith effort to adequately represent the contribution women make to literature and literary criticism.

Preamble to the Pledge: https://poethead.wordpress.com/rascal/fired-irish-women-poets-and-the-canon-preamble-to-the-pledge/

 

The Literary Canon

The (Fired!) campaign focused attention on the question of what we mean by the literary canon and whether it can be altered retrospectively. Some authorities consider that the canon is an immutable historical appreciation of writers in their time that reflects a consensus on value. The women in Fired! strongly disagree. Since women writers who were popular in their time have frequently fallen into oblivion, the canon is not a faithful historical record, but rather one that has been revised. And since it is neither a true record of past realities nor an immutable consensus, but rather a moveable feast of shifting loyalties, we ought to be able to change the current view of it, even retrospectively.

 

Who decides the Canon and the work of historical memory?

The (Fired!) campaign focused attention on the question of what we mean by the literary canon and whether it can be altered retrospectively. Some authorities consider that the canon is an immutable historical appreciation of writers in their time that reflects a consensus on value. The women in Fired! strongly disagree. Since women writers who were popular in their time have frequently fallen into oblivion, the canon is not a faithful historical record, but rather one that has been revised. And since it is neither a true record of past realities nor an immutable consensus, but rather a moveable feast of shifting loyalties, we ought to be able to change the current view of it, even retrospectively.

 

Online URL: https://3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2021/11/historical-memory-2-fired-irish-women-poets-and-the-canon.html

 

 

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Added by Fired | Last updated on: 17 November 2021