Ireland has produced a generation of distinguished poets since 1960, and the most celebrated of them have been men. Of this group of poets, Seamus Heaney is the best known to American audiences, but the reputations of Thomas Kinsella, Derek Mahon, Michael Longley, Paul Muldoon, and Tom Paulin continue to grow. Poetry by contemporary Irishwomen is also a significant part of the Irish literary scene. Eavan Boland is one of a group of notable women poets including Medbh McGuckian, Eithne Strong, and Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin. In an essay published in 1987, “The Woman Poet: Her Dilemma,” Boland indicates her particular concern with the special problems of being a woman and a poet. Male stereotypes about the role of women in society continue to be very strong in Ireland and make Irishwomen less confident about their creative abilities. Women also must contend with another potentially depersonalizing pressure, that of feminist ideology, which urges women toward another sort of conformity. Boland and the other female Irish poets previously mentioned have managed to overcome both obstacles and develop personal voices.
Boland has served as a member of the board of the Irish Arts Council and a member of the Irish Academy of Letters. Her honors and awards include the American Ireland Fund Literary Award (1994), the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry (1994), the Bucknell Medal of Distinction from Bucknell University (2000), the Smartt Family Foundation Prize for Against Love Poetry, the John Frederick Nims Memorial Prize from Poetry magazine (2002), the John William Corrington Award for Literary Excellence from Centenary College of Louisiana (2002-2003), and the James Boatwright III Prize for Poetry from Shenandoah (2006) for “Violence Against Women.”