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Scholarcast 18: ‘Neither Here Nor There’: dynamism, deixis and cultural positioning in some contemporary poetry

Alice Entwistle


Among the many divergent strands of Irish and Welsh cultural history, one commonality stands out: the profoundly self-conscious preoccupation with nationality and nationhood. For decades, political and cultural thinkers have troped this concern in the spatialized relation between centre and periphery. This paper finds poets working on both sides of the Irish Sea strategically critiquing the exhausted-seeming dialectic of the centre-periphery paradigm, in their anti-deterministic deployment of deixis, the term assigned by cognitive linguists to words which point or position. The few existing studies of deixis in poetry typically presume on its unvarying functional effect: to situate and anchor the voice(s) and environment(s) of the poetic text. Interestingly, poets like Catherine Walsh and Zoë Skoulding, writing out of Ireland and North Wales respectively, call that assumption into question. Both these poets use deictic signifiers in ways which deliberately, arguably self-protectively, fail to fix their texts in a range of potential cultural contexts.

Alice Entwistle

Alice Entwistle is Principal Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Glamorgan in Pontypridd, South Wales. She co-authored, with Jane Dowson, A History of Twentieth Century British Women’s Poetry (CUP 2005) and has published critical treatments of poets writing on both sides of the Atlantic. Recent and current critical projects include forthcoming chapters in The Cambridge History of English Poetry and The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth Century British and Irish Women’s Poetry. She is currently researching a critical monograph on the bi-lingual Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis for University of Wales ‘Writers in Wales’ series, and completing In These Stones, a major critical study of contemporary women writing poetry in and out of Wales (Seren). 


Series edited by: John Brannigan.
Commissioning Editor: P.J. Mathews 
Scholarcast original theme music by: Padhraic Egan, Michael Hussey and Sharon Hussey.
Recording, audio editing, photography and development by: John Matthews, Brian Kelly, Vincent Hoban &
Niall Watts at UCD IT Services, Media Services.

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