“Second Time Round”: Recent Northern Irish History in For All We Know and Ciaran Carson’s Written Arts

Ruben Moi, Annelise Brox Larsen


This paper analyses how Ciaran Carson’s For All We Know (2008) adds to other disciplinary approaches to the challenges of re-presenting the past. The representation of history is a controversial field, as much of the radical tradition of history debates in Marx, Derrida, Foucault and Kristeva indicates. Controversies over history are also prevalent in Belfast and Northern Ireland where history seems to have intervened upon the life of individual people more brutally and insistently than in most other places in the Western world in the latter decades of the last century. Carson is one of the many acclaimed poets who try to come to terms with the almost incomprehensible historical predicament of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. What is the poet to write about in times of murder and mayhem? Why? How? How does poetry relate to the representations of the past and the emergence into unknown futures? Carson has endured the tragedies, the turmoil, and their bearings upon the peace-emerging society in Belfast throughout his whole life. For All We Know constitutes a historical document, which in its poetic creativity and formal strategies, supplements other attempts to account for life in Belfast and Northern Ireland during the Troubles.


Ciaran Carson; For All We Know; Irish Poetry; Northern Ireland; Belfast; Marx; Derrida; Foucault; Kristeva

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