Durcan Takes A Narrative Approach To Explore A Variety Of Issues
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‘‘Durcan takes a narrative approach to explore a variety of issues in poems of great emotional honesty.”
Discuss this statement, supporting your answer with reference to the poetry of Paul Durcan on your course.
Paul Durcan’s poetry is characterised by an accessible, almost everyday narrative approach, one likely the result of his training as a journalist. Thus, Durcan reports on his life’s events, telling his at times turbulent and tempestuous life-story with great emotional honesty and exploring, quite openly, his thoughts on both public and private matters.
In ‘Wife Who Smashed Television Gets Jail’, a poem laced with sardonic irony, Durcan exposes the misogynistic, male-dominated society of 1970s Ireland. In this poem, a man’s wife is jailed for smashing a television:
And when in this case wives expressed their preference
in forms of violence
Jail was the only place for them. Leave to appeal was refused.
Through the judge’s sentencing, Durcan reveals how female dissent was suppressed in the conservative Ireland of the era in which this poem is set.
Durcan focuses also on the malignant influence of television on family cohesion. In ‘Wife Who Smashed’, as is often the reality, television is a barrier to familial communication; Durcan’s speaker reports the imprisoned wife to have declared:
I didn't get married to a television
And I don't see why my kids or anybody else's kids
Should have a television for a father or mother.
In her view, television has substituted real, meaningful social interaction where it is needed most.
To illustrate these issues (widespread misogyny and a full-scale TV uprising) Durcan utiliz...