An evening with Eavan Boland

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Last night marked the 30th anniversary of the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society‘s “Evening of Irish Music and Poetry” in Columbia, MD. We learned about it during Meredith’s recent reading at the launch for the third issue of the Little Patuxent Review (which featured one of her poems).

While Michael Collins, the Irish ambassador to the United States was a welcome guest, the star of the evening was Eavan Boland, the acclaimed Irish poet who is currently teaching at Stanford. She read several poems, mostly from her New Collected Poems. For a series of reasons, I was never really introduced to much poetry. We focused almost exclusively on literature (mostly novels) in high school, and I tested out of literature classes when I attended college. Now that I’m dating a poet, I’m working to catch up on what I’ve been missing.

I can’t offer much in the way of a critique on Boland’s work (since I’m so unschooled) but the poems she read were touching, fluid and very authentic. Her stories were equaling moving, and full of incredible detail. There was something very graceful yet focused about her writing that I appreciated, and I was quick to buy a copy of her collected poems (which she also signed!).

Following a short intermission, a local band called Narrowbacks performed (for, apparently, the 29th time at the event) a selection of traditional tunes, songs and jigs. They were joined by a group of Irish step dancers and guest singer Eileen Korn. The group played an hour-and-a-half long set, with the dancers joining in at various intervals. The crowd was responsive, and the musicians were definitely on the top of their game.

This is the type of event I’m looking forward to now that I’m living in D.C. While the Mimbres Region Arts Council and the Silver City Chamber of Commerce excel at drawing incredible artists, musicians and productions to the Grant County area, there’s just so many more opportunities to experience it living in the big city.