Quiet Conversations: Eavan Boland / Lynne Cooke

Eavan Boland (1944-2020). An Irish poet, writer and professor at Stanford University with some forty publications to her name. Her New Collected Poems (2008), the study A Journey With Two Maps: Becoming a Woman Poet (2011), and Eavan Boland: A Poet’s Dublin (2014), edited by Paula Meehan and Jody Allen Randolph, are the main points of reference here.

Lynne Cooke. Australian born, Cooke is an internationally acknowledged curator, teacher and writer on art. She is at the time of writing Senior Curator, Special Projects in Modern Art, at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.


Boland’s concern as a poet was to ensure that babies and washing machines found an equal place in Irish poetry alongside, say, politically-motivated murder. A concern that for me speaks to the need, in visual art, to struggle against what Cooke refers to as the “categorical distinctions and formalist teleological art histories” still active in the subconsciousness of those who would arbitrate what is and is not proper to the activity of making art. 

Cooke organised the exhibition Outliers and American Vanguard Art (2018), which includes important essays by Darby English, Suzanne Hudson and herself, among others, that have had a significant impact on my thinking and this body of work.