Walt Hunter

Speculations: new Irish poetry

The subversion of the lyric mode (part two)

An interview with Sophie Collins

You're working on a dissertation on poetry and translation at Queen’s — do I have that right? What are you writing about at the moment?

That's right. The theory side of things is separated into three studies on experimental strategies within the three different kinds of translation, as outlined by Jakobson—interlingual (the most familiar = translations between languages), intralingual (translations of texts into other versions of themselves within the same language) and intersemiotic (translations between media).

I've just finished the section on intersemiotic translation, which focused on ekphrasis — so, translations from the visual to the verbal. In poetry, for most readers, “ekphrasis” tends to conjure ideas of elegies to canonical paintings (and their creators), comprising life lessons and/or expanded narratives.

The subversion of the lyric mode

An interview with Sophie Collins

I'm starting this series with a poet currently based in Northern Ireland, Sophie Collins. Sophie edits the journal tender, and she's writing a dissertation on translation at Queen's in Belfast. I wrote to her out of the blue when I read a few of her poems on The Lifeboat, the webpage for a reading series in Belfast.

Sophie, to start, could you tell me a little about your magazine tender, which you edit with Rachael Allen? How it came about, what kinds of poets you hope to feature?

I recently wrote a blurb for tender, so I'll paste this in: tender—'a quarterly journal made by women'—is an online platform promoting work by female-identified writers and artists.


My teaching this semester at NUI Galway includes a seminar on Contemporary Irish Poetry and a lecture on W.B. Yeats. In the lecture course, I'm placing three late twentieth-century/early twenty-first-century poets (Merrill, Rich, and Rankine) in dialogue with Yeats. But for the “Contemporary” seminar, I decided pretty quickly that I wouldn’t do an “After Yeats/Kavanagh” course and call that “Contemporary”: the notion of such a determinate genealogy casts recent poets in a frame that's not of their own making, and that comes problematically gendered and ambiguously politicized. I wanted to avoid that.

So the course on “Contemporary Irish Poetry” would have to have different variables. My idea was to make a syllabus that featured, as much as possible, poems from books published between 2012-2014 or so. I arranged those poems into groups that were neither strictly thematic, nor strictly formal, but rather categories that were sensitive to the material and political conditioning of poetic structures (I'll publish the syllabus in a later post).