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"Derek Mahon's Literal Littorals"

Abstract : A transversal reading of Derek Mahon's poems reveals his predilection for coastal landscapes: vistas of sea and seashore, harbour towns or seaside resorts. Suffused as they are with elemental symbolism (waves, wind, rain and storm, rocks, cliffs and misty piers), those liminal spaces take on a metaphysical dimension. The landscapes that the poet invests are the objective correlatives of his sense of alienation and vulnerability; they are mindscapes (paesagio mentale or reflections of the inner self) as much as territories to be paced and explored. This paper thus examines how the natural and the urban, the visual and the acoustic, the a-temporal and the modern or post-modern meet, mix or clash, or simply interact in those scenes to express the "heroism and cowardice of living [and writing] on the edge of space" ("The Sea in Winter") and to help the poet see through himself. This paper also explores how those landscapes become wordscapes, in particular how Mahon's geopoetics (or poetry of place) operates a translation and transmutation of seashore litter into vibrant poetic letter.
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Contributor : Christelle Seree-Chaussinand <>
Submitted on : Saturday, August 9, 2014 - 12:33:25 AM
Last modification on : Friday, June 8, 2018 - 2:50:13 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-01054878, version 1



Christelle Seree-Chaussinand. "Derek Mahon's Literal Littorals". ANQ: A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes and Reviews, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2012, 25(1), pp.51-58. ⟨halshs-01054878⟩



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