Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Fight the lack of representation of female Irish writers - sigh the pledge

Over the past two weeks, I've been researching the lack of Irish women writers - focusing mainly on poets- represented in the Irish canon. I've been inspired to do this by the Fired! movement of "women poets and allies working to bring the voices of forgotten Irish women poets back into the canon and fight gender imbalance", spearheaded by Mary O'Donnell, Maria McManus, Kimberly Campanello and Kathy D'Arcy.

So far, I've analysed 27 collections of Irish writing, whether anthologies or collections of critical essays, finding a repeated trend of women being under-represented, ignored and dismissed by editors and publishers. Some of you will be very aware of this already, but for some of you, it might come as a surprise, and I hope, a wake up call.

The list of stats is here: Here are a few depressing examples:

Modern Irish Poetry: An Anthology
Ed. Patrick Crotty (Penguin, 2010)
22 female poets out of 177 = 12.4%

The Ireland Anthology
ed. Seán Dunne (Gill & Macmillan, 1999)
26 female authors out of 176 = 14.8%

The Penguin Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry
Eds. Peter Fallon & Derek Mahon (Penguin Books Ltd, 1990)
4 female poets out of 35 = 11.4%

To start readdressing this imbalance, Fired! is asking people to sign a pledge, stating that they will withdraw their participation "from publications, edited collections, conferences, festivals and other projects which do not make what I consider to be a good-faith effort to adequately represent the contribution women make to literature and literary criticism." You can add your voice to this at

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