MANCHESTER >> "How would Yeats ask us to celebrate the 1916 Centenary? What are the perils and dangers of how this event is memorialized?" These questions about the 1916 Centenary commemorating the Easter Rising are framed as Amy E. Martin, Associate Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College and author of the book Alter-Nations: Nationalisms, Terror, and the State in Nineteenth Century Britain and Ireland (Ohio State University Press, 2012) explores the Yeats poem Easter 1916 with us on Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m.
Professor Martin's relationship with the poem became deeply significant to her work when she taught it in Modern Irish Studies: "I understood 1916 as a watershed turning point in Irish history, where truth and memory become points of great conflict What happens when certain figures (MacDonagh, MacBride, Connolly, and Pearse) are reduced to being heroes? Yeats' own experience of these events was complicated and ambivalent, tortuous enough that it had to be released from him through this poem." Easter 1916 has endured because it captures the moment where hopes are crushed and yet the ideals transition and transform to another peak of power. Ireland was part of " a global and historical transformation.
In Ireland, the Office of the Taoiseach (Prime Minister of Ireland) describes the 1916 Commemorations thus:
2016 will belong to everyone on this island and to our friends and families overseas – regardless of political or family background, or personal interpretation of our modern history. The Government is committed to ensuring that 2016 will be a year of rich and diverse activities when the full complexity of the last 100 years on this island can be explored and celebrated.
A tall order, coming from "a terrible beauty is born." This 1st Wednesday promises to illustrate the paradox of how our turning points in history, evolution and revolution, are loathe to shed their armors of ambivalence through " the way we think and speak about violence, and narrate and describe historical upheaval."
1st Wednesdays are free and open to the public, and are held at The First Congregational Church in Manchester.