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'I know this labyrinth so well': narrative mappings in the poetry of Ciaran Carson

Weston, Daniel


Daniel Weston


Neal Alexander

David Cooper


Ciaran Carson is increasingly recognised as a poet of place, of the city, and specifically of Belfast. However, Carson's work is also permeated by the Northern Irish Troubles in thoroughgoing ways. This essay elucidates the ways in which his poetry of place and his spatial poetics have developed in response to a particular set of historical circumstances and sectarian geographies. In contradistinction to the landscape of checkpoints and the static identities they enforce upon Belfast's inhabitants, Carson interrogates mapping processes to reveal the multitude of perspectives present in what is, for him, a polyvalent and indeterminate city. If the authority of the map is discredited in Ciaran Carson's poetry – particularly in The Irish for No (1987) and Belfast Confetti (1989) – the labyrinth is offered as an alternative model for a dynamic, open rendering of space.


Weston, D. (2013). 'I know this labyrinth so well': narrative mappings in the poetry of Ciaran Carson. In N. Alexander, & D. Cooper (Eds.), Poetry & geography: Space & place in post-war poetry, 105-119. Liverpool University Press. doi:10.5949/liverpool/9781846318641.003.0008

Publication Date Jul 15, 2013
Deposit Date Dec 19, 2014
Publicly Available Date
Journal Poetry and geography: space and place in post-war poetry
Publisher Liverpool University Press
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Pages 105-119
Book Title Poetry & geography: Space & place in post-war poetry
Chapter Number 8
ISBN 9781846318641
Keywords Ciaran Carson; Poetry; Belfast; Troubles; Map; Labyrinth
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