Poetic consciousness and the novel Wildgoose

Evans, Sally and Lambert, Zoe and Walls, Eoghan (2021) Poetic consciousness and the novel Wildgoose. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Wildgoose is a novel about poets, placing protagonists against the historical background of the poetry world in Northern England and Scotland from 1965 to 2015, investigating how poet cousins, female and male, would fare setting out as poets. I added a group of characters to the poetry scene, drawing on the bildungsroman genre to chart my poets’ development. My novel has ‘episodes’ in set years, averaging five-year intervals. Eric becomes accepted as a poet in Scotland. Living with her son among friends and her few sexual partners, Maeve writes a long poem – Wildgoose – which disappears on its completion. Though upset, she carries on and moves to Scotland when her son becomes independent. Later her son rediscovers her poem and invites her back to Scotland. She reads the opening at the concert where she is pushed off the cinema stage and fatally injured. In a substantial Coda, her son’s associate Mary follows Eric while seeking Maeve’s poem. Eric is upset and becomes suicidal, then dies on a journey of repentance. Mary finds and reads Wildgoose in Durham University, and arranges for its publication. The novel ends with Eric’s reflections on his life in poetry. Wildgoose is followed by a four-part reflective essay, discussing the implications of historical time and place, structural and narrative choices, devices for showing poetic consciousness, and the inclusion of poems in the novel. I identify consciousness as the key feature in poets’ experience of life, while showing the experience of poets in a defined part of the poetry world. I use geese as symbols of inspiration and consciousness as they travel the country above the poets in the novel. It is unusual to look at poets in the North of England and Scotland in the light of their personal professional experience rather than judging them purely on worldly success.

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24 Feb 2022 09:20
Last Modified:
12 Dec 2023 01:07