Welcome to Irish poetry - May 2010
This quarter we take a rest from our usual format of focusing on two poets to feature a selection of five poets all drawn from a new anthology, Landing Places.
With a compelling introduction by editors Eva Bourke and Borbála Faragó, this book presents a large number of immigrant poets in Ireland. For many years Ireland’s largest ethnic minority was white Anglo-Saxons, but in the wake of the Celtic Tiger economic bubble Ireland attracted many hundreds of thousands from the new EU states, Asia, Africa and South America. In six years the number of immigrants in Ireland grew from negligible proportions to 10% of an Irish population already swollen by the cessation of steady, continuous emigration which had lasted two centuries. If Ireland had maintained the population ratio it had to Britain’s in 1840 it would now be home to 25 million instead of just under 6 million people. But 6 million is still a huge increase on the four and a half million of fifteen years ago. No Western European country has experienced such a radical change in its demographics as Ireland in the last six years. Not only has the ethnic mix changed irrevocably but a culture traumatised by centuries of emigration has suddenly had to accommodate itself to the phenomenon of immigration.
It is therefore fitting that we acknowledge this new ethnic diversity on Poetry International’s Ireland site. We feature here an established poet of English origins living in the country for decades and an integral part of the Irish poetry community (Mark Roper) as well as more recent Anglophone immigrants such as Adam Wyeth and Jennifer Matthews, and we also bring to PIW representatives of what we like to call in Ireland “the New Irish” from Africa and Asia: Landa Wo and Panchali Mukherji.