Rosemarie Rowley


Life
1942- ; b. Dublin; ed. TCD, on Dublin Corporation Scholarship, grad. BA 1974; MLitt. 1984; taught in Birmingham; worked for European Commission, Luxembourg; completed MA dissertation on Patrick Kavanagh, TCD; issued The Broken Pledge and Other Poems (1985); The Sea of Affliction (1987) and Flight into Reality (1989), all poetry collections; acted with Fiona Garland and Ingred Masterson as co-ordinators of Green Party local election campaign, operating from the Alliance offices in Fownes St., Dublin, 1985- ;
 
studied feminist theology at Milltown Park; worked as teacher in Birmingham; Diploma in Psychiatry, 1996; issued Freedom and Censorship: Is There a Solution? (1996), pamphl., and third in a series on the theme; issued Hot Cinquefoil Star (2003), 5 longer poems; winner of Epic Awards (Scotland), 1996, and again in 1997 with “The Wake of Wonder”; received American Library of Poetry Award, 1997; winner of Scottish International Poetry Competition, 2002; appt. co-ordinatory of Irish Green Movement; issued In Memory of Her (2009), and The Sea of Affliction (2010), new poems; formerly issued in a limited edition in 2004; lives in Booterstown, Co. Dublin.

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Works
Poetry collections
  • The Broken Pledge and Other Poems (Dublin: Martello 1985), 56pp.;
  • The Sea of Affliction (Dublin: Rowan Tree Press/An Clóphreas Caorthainn 1987), 64pp.;
  • Flight into Reality (Dublin: Rowan Tree Press 1989), 102pp. [see extract];
  • trans., Mimmo Morina, You Are the Earth: Poems 1958-1968 (Euroeditor 1997) [poems of Sec. Gen. of World Organisation of Poets];
  • Hot Cinquefoil Star (Dublin: Rowan Tree 2003), 172pp.
  • In Memory of Her [2004 lim. edn.] (Dublin: Rowan Tree 2009), 210pp.
  • The Sea of Affliction (Dublin: Rowan Tree 2010), 64pp.
 
Miscellaneous
  • ‘Thinking Globally and Acting Locally’, in Richard Kearney, ed., Across the Frontiers (Dublin: Wolfhound Press 1988), pp.91-97 [see extract];
  • ‘Meretricious matriarchy’, review of Eavan Boland, The Journey, in The Sunday Tribune (11 Jan. 1987) [see extract];
  • Extended Wings, ed. Rowley (Dublin: Rathmines Writers 1993) [guest poet Pat Boran ... et al.], ill. by Maura O’Grady, 80pp.;
  • Freedom and Censorship: Is There a Solution? Why Not have Both? (Dublin: Rowan Tree Press 1996), 16pp.;
  • ed., with John Haughton, Seeing the Wood and the Trees (Cairde na Coille 2003).
Contrib. to Temenos, 12 [q.d.], and WPA Annual Journal, 1996, 1997; In Memory of Her (Rowan Tre Press [2004]), 212pp.

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Criticism
Caroline Walsh, ‘Women find solace with the Greens’, interview-article [on Rowley et al.], in The Irish Times (9 May 1986) [see extract]; Fred Johnston, review of In Memory of Her [inter alia], in Books Ireland (April 2004), p.91 [see extract].

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Commentary
Caroline Walsh
, ‘Women find solace with the Greens’, interview-article [on Rowley et al.], in The Irish Times (9 May 1986): Her belief is that the orthodox feminism of the 1970s, although welcome in its way, leaned too heaviy on male surrogacy. Quotes: ‘We don’t want to be like, men, working ten hours a day. We want to link arms with the earth, into co-operation and motherhood. What What you have now is young women leaving school, going into clerical jobs, getting married and having children, and then finding themselves staring at a monitor eight hours a day and coming home exhausted to their children and, because of the system, they are maybe £5 richer after paying the babysitter. What is creative or free or worthwhile about that? We believe in sharing jobs and giving everyone a basic income […]’ Rowley is attracted by East-West dialogue as ‘present[ing] a way forward out of the intransigence that’s three’. Further: ‘In the test you have materialism and freedom from responsibility. In the East you have materialism of a more philosophical sort and no freedom of self-expression, which is a deep human need. The Green parties of Europe are producing a booklet examining the deadlock [...]’. Further: ‘It really breaks my heart when I see an alumnium can thrown away.’ Rowley promoted ice-pops for children in Fatima Buildings using natural orange juice.

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Fred Johnston, reviewing In Memory of Her, in Books Ireland (April 2004), writes: ‘I rather admire Rosemarie Rowley’s work. I think she asks awkward and necessary questions, particularly of feminist orthodox, and this can make people uncomfortable. But it’s not a poet’s job, necessarily, to give us soft cushions to prop our consciences against. / Her poetry is unashamedly personal [b]ut never unaashamedly narcissistic, never without its point to make, its wider canvas.’ Further, ‘I don’t always agree [...] and I do think that some of the poems here are more political than poetical, which is always a risk. But I’m inclined to think that this uncomfortable little book will not be on the beside tables of too many feminists, while the really brave women of our time, like the really brave men, who simply get on with it, will find much interesting and very little threatening here.’ Quotes [inter alia]: ‘The worst thing is that there’s no male muse - / I don’t feel the marginalisation of the neglect / Quite as much as the possibility I might lose / The reader [...]’; and, ‘For all we are, / there is a sobbing need / A haunting / defamation of ourselves [...]’

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Quotations
Thinking Globally and Acting Locally’ (1988): ‘The success of environmental and ecology movements thorughout Europea may inded lie in putting these things [CFCs &c.] on the agenda, and forcing the central powers of government and media to accept them. Yet the prognosis for the future cannot include the [93] possibilityes offered by feminism and ecological lifestyles, and the radical idea of placing power at the local level, a web instead of a system [...] In fact, it is feminism, in the broad sense, with its history of cooperation, its respect for the other, the understanding of oppression and its call to wholeness, which may offer a solution to post-industrial problems, particularly in the interim when macro and grassroots solutions must go hand in hand, and indeed in the foreseeable long-term also. [...]’ (pp.93-94.) ‘The crux is to have local input at supranational level, and to create at the same time a power divide which favours the local, but which respects the universal application of human rights. The present possible progression from District Court to European Court of Human Rights expresses this state of affairs in law. The challenge is to implement such a transitional model at all levels of our society in the 1990s.’ (p.97; end.)

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Eavan Boland [review of Eavan Boland, The Journey], in The Sunday Tribune (11 Jan. 1987): ‘To my mind, there is a tendency to confuse la donnée (the given) with the poet’s act of percept (which is in fact a giving of the self.) Kavanagh understood this perfectly, as his first love was Nature. Too often in Eavan Boland’s work it provides an occasion for suburban felicity, a sort of semaphore to the reader that survival has something to do with bleached teacloths in women’s gardens and that folding them into some sort of order creates order in the larger world outside. To see the ordinary given homage in suburbia where it is a condition of life itself implies either a wilful refusal to go outside the private and face the mendacities, complicities and terror of the age, or removes such realities from the realm of conscience. This seems acceptable in Jane Austen’s day when it was a question of wars abroad, but if one is going to develop a conscience today, is a feminist conscience enough? Or is Eavan Boland nudging us towards matriarchy (presumably, no wars) in a quiet way insisting that she has only heard rumours?’ [For longer extract, see under Eavan Boland, Commentary, supra.]

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References
Joan McBreen, ed., The White Page / An Bhileaog Bhán: Twentieth-century Irish Women Poets, ed. (Cliffs of Moher: Salmon 1999), gives selection.

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Notes
Dublin Univ. Players (TCD): A programme note composed by Rowley for the Dublin University Players production of Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist (19-28 Feb. 1970), appeared in The Irish Times at about that date.

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