Ancestral Lines explores poetry written away from the economic and cultural centre by six poets: Seamus Heaney, Tony Harrison, Douglas Dunn, Gillian Clarke, Sally Roberts Jones and Oliver Reynolds. Linden Peach sees them all as responsible for mapping locales: their work, he claims, is a voyage of geographical discovery for the literary world and a struggle with language to articulate in poetry their people’s lives. In the process they refute the notion of poetry as the preserve of the English middle-classes.
Studies of the individual poets are accompanied by more wide-ranging essays on the influence of politics, history and myth on poetry from Ireland, Wales and the North of England, describing how poetry emerges from the complex matrix of personal, regional, national and historical identities. This book is a welcome challenge to conventional literary notions of life on the margins.