Florence Impens, former NEH-Keough Fellow, Publishes "Classical Presences in Irish Poetry after 1960: The Answering Voice"

Author: Mary Hendriksen

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Florence Impens, now a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the John Rylands Research Institute at the University of Manchester, has published Classical Presences in Irish Poetry After 1960: The Answering Voice (Palgrave 2018). The volume is the product of her work as a National Endowment for the Humanities-Keough Fellow at the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Dr. Impens' book provides the first overview of classical presences in Anglophone Irish poetry after 1960. Featuring detailed studies of Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, Derek Mahon, and Eavan Boland, including close readings of key poems, it highlights the evolution of Irish poetic engagements with Greece and Rome in the last 60 years. In her analysis, Dr. Impens outlines the contours of a "movement" which transformed Irish poetry and accompanied its transition, she asserts, from a postcolonial to a transnational model, from sporadic borrowings of images and myths in the poets’ early attempts to define their own voices, to the multiplication of classical adaptations since the late 1980s. This transformation has occurred at a time of personal and political crises in Ireland, particularly in Northern Ireland. More recently, it can be viewed as a manifestation of Irish poets’ engagement with European and other international literatures.


Before her fellowship at the Keough-Naughton Institute, Dr. Impens studied at Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3 and at Trinity College, Dublin, where she was awarded a Ph.D. in English in 2013 and lectured in English and in French. 

In 2016, when reflecting on her time at the Keough-Naugthon Institute, Dr. Impens said:

"The NEH-Keough Fellowship was an exceptional opportunity for me at a very early stage in my career that provided me with the resources, the intellectual and collegial environment, and the academic freedom I needed to turn my PhD thesis into a monograph, and to write the best manuscript I possibly could. This and the other essays I completed during my year at the Institute have been, and will, I am sure, continue to be invaluable assets as my career moves forward.

"Now that I am back in Europe, I also realize how fortunate I was to spend one year in the US, and at Notre Dame in particular. I met wonderful colleagues, with whom I have been delighted to stay in contact, and I look forward to deepening those transatlantic connections in the future. I lectured at the Notre Dame IRISH Seminar in June 2016 ("Classical Influences," directed by Dr. Isabelle Torrance) in Dublin, and I can't help thinking back to 2013 and the Irish Seminar I attended in Paris as a student, my first contact with Notre Dame. Perhaps this is the best image to illustrate the central role Notre Dame and the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies have played in my career, and of the support Notre Dame has given me over the last three years, shaping the scholar I have grown to be."

Dr. Impens' current research project, supported by the Leverhulme Trust through 2019, focuses on poetry in translation in the United Kingdom and Ireland after 1960 and makes extensive use of the modern literary archives of the John Rylands Library, notably in relation to Carcanet Press and Anvil Press Poetry. 

Read more about Florence Impens' work at the John Rylands Institute.