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'The bright garbage on the incoming wave': Rubbish in the poetry of Derek Mahon

'The bright garbage on the incoming wave': Rubbish in the poetry of Derek Mahon Mahon is increasingly recognized as one of the most important Irish poets of our time, along with Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley and Paul Muldoon. Of all contemporary Irish poets, however, Mahon is probably the most consistently occupied by the crisis of modernity, and this article approaches his poetry in relation to his related preoccupations with industrial rubbish, trash, waste, obsolescence and dereliction. Mahon has been categorized as a poet of elegance and urbanity, but the author of 'Rage for Order' is also the writer of 'The Apotheosis of Tins', and this study seeks to see an unstable but intimate connection between order and detritus as dialectically crucial to his work. Taking off from texts as different as the sociologist Michael Thompson's Rubbish Theory , Mary Douglas' Purity and Danger , Susan Strassner's History of Trash and Don De Lillo's Underworld , it offers interpretations of major poems such as 'A Disused Shed in Co Wexford', 'A Garage in Co Cork', 'Ovid in Tomis' and The Hudson Letter in terms of Mahon's own developing rubbish theory. At the same time it seeks to situate the poet's paradoxical fascination with trash as a place 'where a thought might grow' in terms of an ecological vision of the waste crisis of modern society, his experience of the postmodern Manhattan of the 1990s, and his reaction to the political crisis in his native Northern Ireland. The article suggests that rubbish is central to the poet's investigation of cultural value, and that his work represents offers, among other things, of a poetics of rubbish. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Textual Practice Taylor & Francis

'The bright garbage on the incoming wave': Rubbish in the poetry of Derek Mahon

Textual Practice , Volume 16 (2): 21 – Jan 1, 2002
21 pages

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Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN
1470-1308
eISSN
0950-236X
DOI
10.1080/09502360210141510
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Mahon is increasingly recognized as one of the most important Irish poets of our time, along with Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley and Paul Muldoon. Of all contemporary Irish poets, however, Mahon is probably the most consistently occupied by the crisis of modernity, and this article approaches his poetry in relation to his related preoccupations with industrial rubbish, trash, waste, obsolescence and dereliction. Mahon has been categorized as a poet of elegance and urbanity, but the author of 'Rage for Order' is also the writer of 'The Apotheosis of Tins', and this study seeks to see an unstable but intimate connection between order and detritus as dialectically crucial to his work. Taking off from texts as different as the sociologist Michael Thompson's Rubbish Theory , Mary Douglas' Purity and Danger , Susan Strassner's History of Trash and Don De Lillo's Underworld , it offers interpretations of major poems such as 'A Disused Shed in Co Wexford', 'A Garage in Co Cork', 'Ovid in Tomis' and The Hudson Letter in terms of Mahon's own developing rubbish theory. At the same time it seeks to situate the poet's paradoxical fascination with trash as a place 'where a thought might grow' in terms of an ecological vision of the waste crisis of modern society, his experience of the postmodern Manhattan of the 1990s, and his reaction to the political crisis in his native Northern Ireland. The article suggests that rubbish is central to the poet's investigation of cultural value, and that his work represents offers, among other things, of a poetics of rubbish.

Journal

Textual PracticeTaylor & Francis

Published: Jan 1, 2002

Keywords: Derek Mahon; Contemporary Irish Writing; Northern Irish Poetry; Northern Ireland; Irish Studies; Poetics; Rubbish Theory; Modern Poetry; Modernity; Seamus Heaney; Postmodernity; Ecology; Cultural Value

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