“Irish American” is a designation of dubious repute, evoking green beer on St. Patrick’s Day, leprechauns, Notre Dame football, and a view of the Ould Sod hazily glimpsed through a lens of nostalgia and Guinness. During the Troubles, the paramilitaries could count on financial support from the American “ira”—i.e., Inebriated Republicans in Armchairs.

Eamonn Wall, a poet from County Wexford who has lived in the United States for many years, has surely experienced lots of this silliness and has probably listened politely to more than his share of Emerald Isle guff. His approach in this very welcome book, however, is not to lampoon or to rebuke, but to redefine what is meant by Irish America, exploring the lives and work of “artists who belong to Ireland and America in various ways and at multiple levels.” In his...

 

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