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date: 20 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

For poets writing out of the devolved nation states of what critics are now calling the ‘Atlantic Archipelago’, for cultural-political reasons the question of location can be complicated. In linguistics, the words used to point or specify (‘this’ or ‘that’, ‘now’ or ‘then’ for example) are known as deictics. ‘Writing [w]?here’ examines how a range of poets use the spatial deictics ‘here’ and ‘there’ with deliberate ambiguity, in order to call into question the kinds of cultural-political assumptions often ascribed, in unhelpfully confining and/or prescriptive ways, to place. As they show, the idea of ‘here’, in various inescapable but unrecognized or unacknowledged ways, invariably incorporates a ‘there’ of some sort. Partly as a consequence of their gender, partly in response to the political hegemonies of poetic tradition, and partly for aesthetic reasons, Sinead Morrissey, Zoe Skoulding, and Catherine Walsh (writing out of Northern Ireland, North Wales, and the Irish Republic respectively)—like Bernard O’Donoghue, Ciaran Carson, and Cardiff-born John James before them—self-consciously warn against the will to overdetermine the relationship between the contemporary subject and the cultural situations out of which each writes.

Keywords: poetry, place, literary deixis, here and there, spatial deictics, identity, gender, home, Belfast, Wales, poetic tradition, anti-deictic, maps, location, collaboration

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