‘Cé hí siúd Biddy Jenkinson?’: the poet's response in her non-fiction work

Caitlín Nic Íomhair


Despite being recognised as one of the Irish language’s finest poets, there has yet to be written a succinct account of Biddy Jenkinson’s modus operandi. Critics who have tackled Jenkinson’s poetry thus far have accepted the poet’s challenge not to bring outside sources to bear when studying her work. Consequently, they have generally focused their analysis within the confines of a particular poem or poems. For this paper, I would like to try a different approach by making virtually no reference to Jenkinson’s creative writing. Instead, this paper aims to give an account of Jenkinson’s mysterious entrance into the world of Irish-language poetry, and to analyse her causa scribendi as it presented in her non-fiction writings. I will honour the poet’s wish not to seek biographical ‘explanations’ for her work.

The paper has three parts. First is a short historical account of the mystery and speculation surrounding Jenkinson’s true identity in the early years. Then follows a compilation and discussion of the poetic principles shown in her several essays and interviews. Finally, an account is given of the main transgressions against poetry which Jenkinson discusses regularly in her non-fiction.

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© Comhar Teoranta, 2022.
ISSN: 2009-8626