Invoking Beckett: Samuel Beckett’s legacy in Northern Irish poetry

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Contemporary Northern Irish poets have repeatedly, even obsessively, invoked Samuel Beckett’s name in their work, from Paul Muldoon’s mock-heroic ‘His Nibs Sam Bethicket’ and Derek Mahon’s ‘Beckett’s bleak reductio’, through Leontia Flynn’s grotesque blazon of Beckett’s ‘palpitations, panic attacks, diarrhoea’ and Padraic Fiacc’s assurance that ‘Beckett welcomes you to Paris’, to Howard’s Wright’s foul-mouthed ‘Beckett in Belfast’. While Beckett’s more generalised influence on the lyrical form and language of contemporary poets has received some scholarly attention, the act of invocation more specifically has been less fully explored, particularly within an explicitly Northern Irish context. To ‘invoke’ – to call by name, to appeal to for witness or aid, to utter as a sacred name, or to summon in prayer – is a performative gesture, drawing Beckett’s presence into dynamic interaction with the poem itself. This chapter will explore precisely what force these poems seek to summon by invoking Beckett’s name.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSamuel Beckett’s Poetry
EditorsJames Brophy, William Davies
PublisherCambrige University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781009222563
ISBN (Print)9781009222549
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2022


  • Samuel Beckett
  • poetry
  • Northern Irish identity
  • Northern Irieland
  • Paul Muldoon
  • Leontia Flynn
  • Derek Mahon


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