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By Hilary Mantel

Alison Hart is a medium by means of alternate. yet her skill to speak with spirits is a torment instead of a present. at the back of her plump, smiling and bland public personality is a determined lady. Her days and nights are haunted through the lads she knew in her formative years, the thugs and petty criminals who preyed upon her hopeless, addled mom, Emmie. And the extra she attempts to be rid of them, the more advantageous and nastier they turn into.

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Such a character is not mimetic; nevertheless, this paradoxical spectacle speaks volumes on the true meaning and lived experience of Northern Ireland. Certainly, for Irish and Northern Irish women writers, their deeply patriarchal worlds continue to suffer from a dearth of women’s voices. And this dearth in terms of literary heritage has undoubtedly provoked reinventions of form, metaphor, and language. But these developments are complicated, in the North, by an all-encompassing need to reimagine and reinvent form, genre, and language.

It is seen in “form[s] of historical impossibility or aporia” (Boxall 307) characterizing their work; Devlin’s dramatic “scrimmed” movements conveying the impossibility of Northern Irishness and McGuckian’s impossible poems that work through indecipherable language, complex chains of metaphors, or an “over”-reliance on and desire to incarnate as image. 26 Incidents, images, and spaces like these suffuse literatures of the North. In writings by Devlin and McGuckian we distinguish the methods by which they resuscitate emblematic Irish figures as part of both a literary feminism and a literary postcoloniality.

The division that cordoned off the six counties and alienated the artist from the only claimable nation also exiled them from their literary heritages as from the production of Irish culture, identity, and history. Not only was the nation thus defamiliarized, so was the poetry, the story, and the song. The tradition of the political ballad, central to any notion of a coherent Irish self, would now have an incongruent-sounding South to North. “Carrickfergus,” the mysterious song, even as it proffers a Northern setting, is no longer part of the imaginable community of Irish intertexts.

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