Eamonn Wall

LifeWorksCriticismCommentaryQuotationsReferencesNotes

Life
1955- ; b. Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford; son of prominent hotel-keepers; ed. Cistercians, Roscrea; UCD, BA and HDip; issued The Celtic Twilight (1974) and Fragments and Other Poems (1981), both with the Funge Arts Centre (Wexford); studied at Univ. of Wisconsin, 1982, MA 1984; issued Fire Escape (1988) and The Tamed Goose (1990) at different presses in New York;
 
completed PhD., NY City University 1992; contrib. to Dermot Bolger, ed., Ireland in Exile (1993); issued Dyckman-200 Street (1994) with Salmon Press; co-ed., The Gorey Detail; issued From the Sin-e Café to the Black Hills (2000), autobiography and co-winner of the ACIS Michael J. Durkan Prize;
 
issued Refuge at De Soto Bend (2004), incorporating a sequence on the Wexford refugee [immigrant] container-tragedy; teaches at University of Missouri-St. Louis; winner of Missouri-St. Louis Research Award, 2007; issued A Tour of Your Country (2008), poems; appt. Smurfit-Stone Corporation Professor of Irish Studies/Professor of English at University of Missouri-St. Louis; travels between Ireland and America. DIL2

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Works
Poetry
  • The Celtic Twilight (Wexford: Funge Arts Centre 1974);
  • Fragments and Other Poems (Wexford: Funge Arts Centre 1981);
  • Fire Escape (NY: Sunken Isle 1988);
  • The Tamed Goose (NY: Hall 1990);
  • Dyckman-200th Street (Dublin: Salmon Press 1994);
  • Iron Mountain Road (Dublin: Salmon Press 1997);
  • The Crosses (Dublin: Salmon Press 2000);
  • Refuge at Desoto Bend (Salmon Poetry 2004), 80pp.;
  • A Tour of Your Country (Moher: Salmon Poetry 2008), 57pp.
Autobiography
  • From the Sin-é Café to the Black Hills (Winsconsin UP 2000), 154pp.
Miscellaneous
  • ‘Four Paintings by Danny Maloney’, in Ireland in Exile: Irish Writers Abroad (New Ireland Books 1993) [q.pp.];
  • contrib. poems to Wexford Through Its Writers, ed. Bolger (Dublin: New Island Books 1993);
  • a suite of poems in New Hibernia Review, 3, 1 (March 1999).

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Criticism
  • Aoileann Ní Éigeartaigh, ‘Eamonn Wall: Transculturalism, Hybridity, and the New Irish in America’, in Exploring Transculturalism: A Biographical Approach, ed. Wolfgang Berg & Ní Éigeartaigh (Hackensack, VS Research [Verlag] 2010), pp. 113-30;
  • Patrick Hicks, review of A Tour of Your Country, in An Sionnach: A Journal of Literature, Culture, and the Arts, 5, 1 & 2 (Spring & Fall 2009), pp.306-08 [see extract].

There is an Eamonn Wall website [dated 2007; accessed 2011]

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Commentary
James J. McAuley, review of Refuge at De Soto Bend, with others, in The Irish Times (12 Feb. 2005; Weekend, p.10): speaks of two sections, with “The Wexford Container Tragedy” and “North Atlantic Drift”, both sequences, at the centre of each. Also “How You Leave”, the first poem. ‘His satire on “The New Marina in Wexford”, with one Ray Wallace as the Countess Cathleen’s escort, is amusing. “The Dutch” pokes ironic fun at the trials and thwarted expectations of those we used to call “the visitors”, while giving serious thought to the immigrants’ woes. [...] Wall therefore relies almost entirely on his disposition of imagery and figuration to accord the bulk of this work the characteristics of poetry. He has a sharp satirical eye; can take the pulse of a sick society; but his forms suggest hasty innovation.’ (Review of sundry poetry collections.)

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Patrick Hicks, review of A Tour of Your Country, in An Sionnach: A Journal of Literature, Culture, and the Arts, 5, 1 & 2 (Spring & Fall 2009), pp.306-08: ‘[...] Wall moves gracefully between memories of his birth country and his adopted home, and we swim in his imagination as he brings Old and New World together. In “Brewery-Mill wheel-River Folly” we see an old waterwheel in Enniscorthy—immobile, broken, a relic of the past—but rather than focus on its lost history, Wall points out that he and his childhood friends, “coursed its banks as bands of Iroquois & Sioux.” The poem goes on to show us the destruction of this waterwheel and, with it, part of Wall's past. The closing lines are masterful because they lock his past and present together with a neat click: “One week ago today / in South Dakota, I had lulled a child to bed with the / promise of another Old World tale & then sat an hour / to watch her sleep on the prairie grounds of the Lakota.” Here, Wall lives among the same Native Americans he once imagined when he was a kid but, rather than use them as bedtime stories, he offers up tales from the Old World. Just as Wall dreamed of America as a child, his own child now dreams of Ireland. His sensitivity to place and language is particularly subtle because he refers to the Indians of his youth as “Sioux” but later mentions their more proper tribal name as “Lakota.” Such a nuanced view of history can also be found in poems such as “Dawn in Pennsylvania,” “Lewis & Clark: Omaha, Nebraska,” and “The Art of Forgetting.” [...] Increasingly, and with the recent passing of James Liddy, Eamonn Wall has become one of the most prominent and exciting contemporary voices of the Irish-American experience. He has an intimate understanding of what it means to be neither here nor there, and his words pull us toward new places. A Tour of Your Country reminds us that we are all linked to foggy roads elsewhere, and it celebrates displacement with the exuberant joy of a homecoming.’ (Available at Muse Archive online; accessed 30.06.2011.)

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Quotations
Archaeology”: ‘Let’s skew it with a spray of last night’s dreams: / rain that tasted of copper; houses made of silver-foil; a piglet in a Babygro, for fun. And then, at last, / to tie the whole thing up, a woman on an unknown road, / waving a cloth so red it bleeds out on her hand, / the empty road, an inscrutable sky.’ (Refuge at De Soto Bend, quoted in McAuley, review, Irish Times, 12 Feb. 2005 [as supra].)

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