Clay: a Poetic Exploration of the Transcendental and an Analysis of the Otherworldly in Contemporary Ulster Poetry

McGrath, Niall (2012) Clay: a Poetic Exploration of the Transcendental and an Analysis of the Otherworldly in Contemporary Ulster Poetry. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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This thesis seeks to analyse how the transcendental as experienced in everyday life is presented and represented in my poetry and in the poetry of four selected contemporary Ulster poets. The thesis argues that many emerging Ulster poets take a secular viewpoint. Nonetheless, religious terminology or, at least, the use of spiritual imagery and symbolism, pervades contemporary Ulster poetry. Clay, is an attempt to reconcile the usual secular Western and Christian-based preconceptions of the spiritual and moral with the Vaisnavist viewpoint through the medium of poetry and examine those themes through reflective writerly-critical engagement with my own work and four selected contemporary Ulster poets. Of the contemporaries selected, some also explore faiths other than the traditional Christianity that has pervaded culture and society here and which influenced, in various ways, predecessors such as William Butler Yeats, Patrick Kavanagh, Seamus Heaney and Derek Mahon. Two linked aspects of contemporary society that feature in contemporary Ulster writing are consumerism and hedonism. These have been challenged in various ways by the chosen contemporary writers. In Clay, the negative impact of these aspects is explored. The thesis uses close reading and an auto-ethnographic approach to explore the impact the spiritual has on my writing and how the transcendental impacts on the poetry that I produce. The philosophies of agrarianism and vegetarianism, linked as they are to Eastern transcendentalism and contemporary environmentalism, feature in my writing, and these are compared and contrasted to how they are treated by my chosen contemporaries. Mention is made of poetic influences and recurring concepts such as defamiliarisation and the notion of poetic vocation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Uncontrolled Keywords: Contemporary Irish Poetry, Ulster poets, transcendental poetry
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR500 Poetry
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2015 12:58
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:56

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