The Modern Irish Sonnet: Revision and Rebellion

The Ballyvaughan hills by Stephen O'Neill

The Modern Irish Sonnet: Revision and Rebellion 

The project examines the idea of the Irish sonnet in twentieth and twenty-first century poetry, demonstrating what has been described by critics as a ‘proliferation’ of the form in the last 70 years, and tracing this ‘proliferation’ back to the formal innovations of W. B. Yeats, Louis MacNeice and Patrick Kavanagh.  Indeed, Seamus Heaney's sonnet 'When all the others were away at Mass' (from Clearances) was voted Ireland's favourite poem of the last 100 years in a recent poll. The book argues for the significance of the Irish sonnet, written by men and women alike, as a discrete entity within modern and contemporary poetry; and shows how the Irish sonnet has itself become a debating chamber for discussions concerning the relationship between Irish and British culture, poetry and gender, and revision and rebellion.

Through its understanding and exploration of the contrarieties of the sonnet form from its very beginnings, the book aims to show how the 'modern Irish sonnet' appears as a discrete form through its revision of, and rebellion against, the sonnet and its assumptions. The study contends, therefore, that it is the very contradictions of the sonnet form that appeal to Irish writers in the modern period, as their poetry processes the contrarieties of Irish identity.

The Modern Irish Sonnet: Revision and Rebellion (forthcoming: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020).

Dr Stubbs has also recently published a review article of Anglo-Irish poet and sonneteer Richard Murphy's The Kick and In Search of Poetry in Irish Studies Review.