Performance and music in the poetry of Ciaran Carson
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Crosson S. (2004) Performance and Music in the Poetry of Ciaran Carson, "Nordic Irish Studies, Special Issue: Contemporary Irish Poetry", Vol. 3, No. 1 (2004), pp. 101-111.
Ciaran Carson has established a reputation as one of Ireland's most important poetic voices. However, Carson is also an accomplished musician whose work reflects the liminal borderland that has always existed between Irish music and Irish literature. Music is a prominent theme throughout Carson's work with songs and musical allusions frequently a feature of his poems. While music has influenced Carson's work thematically, it has played a formative role in one of the most distinctive features of his poetry until recently - that is his use of the long line. This paper argues that it is even possible in some of his poems to find comparable metres with those found in forms of traditional Irish music. Carson's use of the long line is part of his attempt to recreate what he has called the urgency of traditional Irish music in his work through an audience-aware poetic that attempts to recreate the immediacy of the live sessions Carson has partaken of as a musician. For Carson, the crucial moments of communication and understanding are those shared between the performer and the audience, an audience that can sometimes include fellow performers. However, this conviction is reflected in understandings of musical events one finds in ethnomusicology, an audience-orientated approach increasingly shared by literary theorists.