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Poetic Connections between Ireland and Greece

An innovative study has explored the relations between contemporary Irish and Greek poetry including translation and landscape writing. It examined modern links between the two countries neglected by research focused so far on antiquity.
Poetic Connections between Ireland and Greece
An EU-funded project, IRELLAS (The Greek connection: Irish poets and contemporary Greece), explored the literary relations between Ireland and Greece as related to work and travel. Project publications, lectures and presentations focused on Irish poets Seamus Heaney and Derek Mahon and the Modern Greek poets C.P. Cavafy and George Seferis.

Specific fields of research included ecocriticism and approach to Irish and Greek landscape, translation and reception of Modern Greek poetry with related issues – politics, history, myth, nature, and the role of literature in the moments of political and social crisis. With the recent turmoil in Greece, the study added value to the reflection on the political and social issues such as exile, subversion, postcolonialism, and the 'unhealthy intersection' of politics and poetry.

The work was successful in discovering the Irish phenomenon on the Cycladic island of Paros, which turned out to have been frequented by a whole group of major Irish poets, as well as the publication history of the major work discussed in the milestone monograph Northern Irish Poets and Modern Greece: Heaney, Mahon, Cavafy, Seferis: Seamus Heaney's 'Sonnets from Hellas', which transpired to have been published in Greek translation before the original was published.

A poetry symposium was organised in Athens in December 2015 combining an academic session with participants from Greece, Ireland, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States as well as two poetry evenings. The poetry evenings included 10 Irish and Greek poets. There were also poetry workshops and a debate on the connections between Ireland and Greece. A set of two DVDs was produced from the poetry evenings, and a publication – 'Landscapes of Irish and Greek Poets' (scheduled for 2017) – will gather essays, poems, translations and the transcription of the debate.

A series of 20 interviews in English, Greek and French were conducted with poets, translators and researchers from seven countries. Most of them can be listened to on the project website and will appear in a publication Conversations about Irish and Greek Poetry (scheduled for 2018).

Major achievements of the project together with photos, audio and text files are available on the IRELLAS website.

Researchers, students and the general public can benefit from the findings.

Related information

Keywords

Modern Greek poetry, Irish poetry, IRELLAS, Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, Cavafy, Seferis, translation, ecocriticism
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