Untidy borders: Eamonn Wall's negotiation of the American West

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Eamonn Wall's developing oeuvre has won acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, making his poetic explorations of Diaspora and dual home countries of interest to scholars of the American West. As Irish scholar Charles Fanning notes, in Wall "[t]here is no more perceptive and sensitive chronicler of the experience of migration" ("Review" 155). In a series of volumes, starting with Iron Mountain Road (1997), Wall has investigated the complications of passage, the tensions of boundaries, and the difficulties of adaptation to new landscapes in the American West, among other places. Wall's alternating positions as émigré, traveler, dweller, and native son provide him with a unique perspective on the acts of leaving, becoming, and imagining. His is not a double but a multiple consciousness, and the spirit that animates his poems and prose is restive and unsettled. Patrick Hicks defines Wall's cartographic imagination this way: "He has an intimate understanding of what it means to be neither here nor there, and his words pull us toward new places" (306). In his accumulated work, Wall rejects easy dichotomies and forced symmetries, embracing instead the untidy borders of a life unassimilated and partially translated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-161
Number of pages20
JournalWestern American Literature
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2011


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