In a process of re-appropriation of both collective and subjective memory, Mary Dorcey’s female poetic voices transform personal and historical amnesia, loss and sorrow into the driving forces of empowering self-narratives, into “something that can be looked at/ and looked away from” (“Grist to the Mill”, 2001). Analysing a selection of texts by this contemporary Irish poet, this essay explores how the distance from lost lovers, dead friends, or absent mothers is bridged by the act of meticulously telling their painful and ordinary stories. When there is no longer evidence of our foremothers in history, nor any evidence of the presence of a dead mother or a lost lover, words and poetry bear evidence of this void, replace in our memory the stories that history has neglected, or re-create what is longed for but faraway. At a collective level, Mary Dorcey throws light on the shadows of mainstream cultural memory, in which she inscribes forgotten stories of ordinary women and lesbians, and of their daily struggle within a patriarchal, catholic, and compulsorily heterosexual society. At a subjective level, the Irish poet explores new strategies for expressing women’s desire, and women’s mourning and sense of loss. Within a society and a literary tradition that still surround women, and the multifaceted relationships among women, with silence or with cultural and linguistic clichés, not only does Dorcey break this silence, but she also shapes a contemporary language of desire that gives new meanings to overused words and overfamiliar ideas.

“’Our lives are not commonplace’: the Clichés of Loss, Memory and Desire in Mary Dorcey’s Poetry” / Coppola, Maria Micaela. - In: TEXTUS. - ISSN 1824-3967. - STAMPA. - 22:2(2009), pp. 361-378.

“’Our lives are not commonplace’: the Clichés of Loss, Memory and Desire in Mary Dorcey’s Poetry”

Coppola, Maria Micaela
2009

Abstract

In a process of re-appropriation of both collective and subjective memory, Mary Dorcey’s female poetic voices transform personal and historical amnesia, loss and sorrow into the driving forces of empowering self-narratives, into “something that can be looked at/ and looked away from” (“Grist to the Mill”, 2001). Analysing a selection of texts by this contemporary Irish poet, this essay explores how the distance from lost lovers, dead friends, or absent mothers is bridged by the act of meticulously telling their painful and ordinary stories. When there is no longer evidence of our foremothers in history, nor any evidence of the presence of a dead mother or a lost lover, words and poetry bear evidence of this void, replace in our memory the stories that history has neglected, or re-create what is longed for but faraway. At a collective level, Mary Dorcey throws light on the shadows of mainstream cultural memory, in which she inscribes forgotten stories of ordinary women and lesbians, and of their daily struggle within a patriarchal, catholic, and compulsorily heterosexual society. At a subjective level, the Irish poet explores new strategies for expressing women’s desire, and women’s mourning and sense of loss. Within a society and a literary tradition that still surround women, and the multifaceted relationships among women, with silence or with cultural and linguistic clichés, not only does Dorcey break this silence, but she also shapes a contemporary language of desire that gives new meanings to overused words and overfamiliar ideas.
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Coppola, Maria Micaela
“’Our lives are not commonplace’: the Clichés of Loss, Memory and Desire in Mary Dorcey’s Poetry” / Coppola, Maria Micaela. - In: TEXTUS. - ISSN 1824-3967. - STAMPA. - 22:2(2009), pp. 361-378.
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