Sign The Pledge

Our dismay at the gender imbalance in the representation of Irish poets in The Cambridge Companion To Irish Poets (2017) is exacerbated by the gender imbalance in the critical contributors to it. Out of thirty invited contributors, only four are women. As writers and academics, this is an absence we can easily address in future edited volumes. We propose to do so by means of a pledge, which we invite you to sign with us. Our pledge is short and simple. It commits us to asking questions about gender representation early on in collaborative projects such as edited collections, conferences and festivals. It commits us to withdrawing our participation when, in our opinion, insufficient effort is made to render representation fair.

Pledges like this one are increasingly common in any field where participants want to take positive action to promote gender fairness. An example is the online petition set up by Virginia Valian and Dan Sperber, in which “signatories commit to accepting talk invitations only from conferences that have made good-faith efforts to include women” (For Gender Equity Team 2012). As with Valian and Sperber’s pledge, we place emphasis on good-faith efforts. A good-faith effort does not have to mean 50-50 representation of men and women. A good-faith effort by editors, publishers and event organisers might include taking the following actions (adapted from Martin 2014, Gender Equity Team 2012, Feminist Philosophers 2011.):

Editors, publishers and organisers should consciously set themselves the task of including roughly as many women as men in their anthology, edited collection, conference or festival. Because of past neglect, editors and organisers may need to work a little harder to come up with female names for their project. Realising this, they should make an extra effort to ask around and to search for female names in the available literature.

In many cases implicit bias will have been involved in women being less famous, so editors and organisers should make an effort to include some slightly less famous female names. Studies have suggested that both men and women tend to evaluate women more negatively than men in professional contexts: women may need to do a lot more to be considered successful than men do (see for instance Moss-Racusin et al 2012). Editors and organisers should bear in mind that the first female names they consider for inclusion in their project will be those of super-famous women, while they simultaneously consider less famous men. That is, they may be unconsciously setting the bar higher for women.

Publishers, editors and organisers should avoid automatically structuring a conference, volume or festival around an eminent man; they should consider building one around a woman, group or theme instead. Publishers, editors and organisers should develop a policy with regards to their efforts towards fair gender representation and they should be explicit about the efforts they are making. They should let everyone know that they are making a good-faith effort to get gender balance right.

Whoever you are, if you are involved in any way in the production, publication, reception or criticism of Irish literature, we hope you will join us in signing the pledge below.

Thanks to Eavan Boland, Rita Ann Higgins, Dr. Lucy Collins, Emma Penney, Ailbhe D’Arcy, Mary O’Donnell, Chris Allen, Jaclyn Allen, Kate Dempsey, Kimberly Campanello, Laura Loftus, Maria McManus, Moyra Donaldson, Melony Bethala, Alex Pryce, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Nessa O’Mahony, Sarah Clancy, Elaine Feeny, Elaine Cosgrove, Fióna Bolger, Victoria Kennefick, Anne Mulhall,Barbara Smith, Gillian Hamill, Anne Tannam, Maureen Boyle, Stephanie Conn, Alice Kinsella, Paul Casey, Lia Mills, Katie Donovan, Mark Andresen, and Selina Guinness

 *Sign The Pledge Here*

I pledge henceforth to withdraw my participation from publications, edited collections, conferences, festivals and other projects which do not make what I consider to be a good-faith effort to adequately represent the contribution women make to literature and literary criticism.


Alison Hackett
Tadhg Deasy Webb
Mary Byrne
Paula Matthews
Csilla Toldy
Brendan McCormack
Angela T. Carr
Chris Murray
Kimberly Campanello
trish bennett
Annette Skade
Eva Griffin
Ruth Jacob
Peter Raynard
Doireann Ní Ghríofa
James Conor Patterson
Anne Tannam
Claire Hennessy
Matt Kirkham
Emer Lyons
Victoria Kennefick
Brian Grant
Peadar and Collette O’Donoghue
Timothy C. Baker
Dr Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado
Maeve O’Brien
Jo Burns
Tim MacGabhann
Keshia Starrett
Eavan Boland
Sarah Clancy
Jessica Spencer
Charlotte McCurry
Ciarán Byrne
Carolyn Jess-Cooke
Catherine Simpson
Ailbhe Darcy
Kevin Breathnach
Stephen Murray
Doris Murphy
Liz Quirke
Ben Gwalchmai
Deirdre Flynn
Elizabeth O’Connell-Thompson
Robert Stilling
Fióna Bolger
Elizabeth Rimmer
Anna Loughran
Paula Larkin
Joni Schers
Olive Broderick
Sarah Davis-Goff
Melony Bethala
Paul Perry
Mary Mullen
Amos Greig
Michael Ray
Elaine Feeney
Moyra Donaldson
Kate Dempsey
Peter D. O’Neill
Dave Lordan
Lisa Weihman
Eleanor Hooker
Jean O’Brien
Paula McFetridge
Lloyd (Meadhbh) Houston
Therese Kieran
Margaret O’Driscoll
Patricia Coughlan
Ellen Brickley
Aoife Reilly
Alvy Carragher
Pascal O’Loughlin
Joanna Walsh
Seanín Hughes
Joseph Lennon
Aine MacAodha
Carole Trainor
Victor Luftig
Magi Gibson
Catherine Santoro
nita mishra
Charlotte McIvor
daniel paul marshall
Flish McCarthy
anne irwin
Annemarie Mullan
Kate ennals
Dick Edelstein
Katie Donovan
Kevin Higgins

Shirley Bell
Tina O’Toole
Morgan O Reilly
Rita Wilson
Ronan Crowley
Clíona Ó Gallchoir
Geraldine O’Kane
Grace Wells
Susan Millar DuMars
Siobhan Campbell
Penelope Shuttle
Matt Fogarty
John Frederick Kaufman
Janice Fitzpatrick Simmons
Dr. Deirdre McClay
Claire Bracken
Srilata Krishnan
Carolann Caviglia Madden
Niamh Boyce
Laura Loftus
Jack Fennell
Muireann Crowley
Gillian Hamill
Sinéad Gleeson
Ellen Dillon
Mallory Mahen
Kaitlin Mielnicki
Taylor Goldstrohm
Seth Pittner
Amanda Coghe
Jake Bolger
Tanner Simko
Miala Palaima
Lane Hallam
Kaitlin Richards
Amy Nolte
Megan Conery
Mark Thomas Noonan
Maureen Boyle
Máire Wren
Brett Evans
Amy Louise Wyatt
Orla Fay
Yvonne Boyle
ferdia mac anna
Tim Tan
Katie Borgo
Steve Grobsky
Abbey H Layden
Jian Haston
Brandon Cooper
Colin Dardis
Elizabeth Sherry
Carolanne Mullooly
Vincent S. Coster
Finola Scott
Deirdre O’Neill
Breda Wall Ryan
Finola Scott
Shauna Gilligan
Danielle Clarke
Catherine Phil MacCarthy
Deirdre Daly
Cathryn Mannion
Frankie Meehan
Ailbhe McDaid
Richard Barlow
Nicola Moffat
Dylan Brennan
Brian Kirk
Mark Corcoran
Lisa FitzGerald
Anamaría Crowe Serrano
Paula McGrath
David Butler
Aodán McCardle
Dr Caroline Magennis
Dominique Cleary
Jenny Methven
Attracta Fahy
Katie O’Neill
Sean Smith
Áine Durkin
Lauren Foley
Maria McManus
Luiza Leal Furtado
Geraldine Mitchell
colette ní ghallchóir
Maeve O’Sullivan
Moynagh Sullivan
Haruna Yahaya Poloma
Geraldine Mitchell
Pauline Mc Namee
Trevor Joyce
Lani O’ Hanlon
Jose L. Regojo
Pilar Villar-Argaiz
Denise Blake
Mary Madec
Michaela Schrage-Frueh
Lucy Collins
Michael Waldron
Paula Meehan
Rachel Andrews
Alice Lyons
Jane Clarke
Eilish Fisher
Adam Crothers
Jonathan Ellis
Orla Nic Aodha
Professor Linda Connolly
Kate McCarthy
Lian Bell
Mary Otten
Lisa Tierney-Keogh
Liam clune
Amanda Feery
Dr Ciara O’Dowd
Liam Cagney
Patrick Loughnane
Sinéad Kennedy
Anne Enright
Barry Sheils
Maura McHugh
Rebecca O’ Dwyer
Nathan Walker
Mary O’Donnell
Léan Ní Chuilleanáin
Dr Mary McAuliffe
Enda Coyle-Greene
Emma Penney
Sarah O’Connor
Catherine Ann Cullen
Jessica Traynor
Gráinne Tobin
Seosaimhin Ni Bheaglaoich
Lorraine Carey
sylvia shortall
Melissa Sihra
Bernie McGill
Amanda Bell
Jean O’Brien
Louise C Callaghan
Orla Mc Hardy
Fiona Kearney
Edelle McMahon
Linda Anderson
Jamie Murphy
Pádraig Ó Tuama
Portia Ellis-Woods
Louise Kennedy
Ian McDonnell
Frank McHugh
Arthur Broomfield
Fiona Larkin
Órfhlaith Foyle
Liz McSkeane
Gormla Hughes
Helen Harrison
Michael Naghten Shanks
Nicholas McLachlan
Tom Herron
Wendy O Leary
Shirley-Anne McMillan
Annemarie Ní Churreáin
Lizzie Fincham
Ian Duhig
Sara Emily Kuntz
ruth negga
Josephine Corcoran
Richard Martin
Surya Vahni Priya Capildeo
Ruth Connolly
Sam Witt
David Collard
Peter Nolan
Janet Badia
David Hayden
June Caldwell
Viv Kemp
Arnold Thomas Fanning
Roderick Ford
marc de faoite
Lisa Fitzpatrick
Marie Casserly
Ailbhe Smyth
Eithne Harley
Graham Borland
Tina Pisco
Patrick Brannigan
Stephen Connolly
Manuela Palacios González
Colin o Brien
Mark Roper
Xiana Solla
Tara Lynn Hawk
Sinéad Nic Síoda
Majella McCloskey
Nicki Griffin
Eimear O’Herlihy
Debi Wodraska
Patricia Hughes
Kevin Power
Ruth Daly
Helen Frances Lindstrom
Deirdre Maher
Bridget Vincent
Sue cosgrave
Declan Meade
Catherine Barbour
Patricia Walsh
Professor Eoin Devereux
Michelle Masse
Ann Hyland
Jo Slade
Bernadette Purcell
Anne roche redmond
Mary Melvin Geoghegan
Lorna Shaughnessy
Paul Casey
Mary Butler
Scott Catey
Roisin Kelly
Jaclyn Allen
Frances O’Grady
Fiona Gilboy
Donald Gardner
Ray Glasheen
Valerie KEOGH
Rachel Genn
Ita Morrissey
Michael G Cronin
Caoilfhionn Ní Bheacháin
Majella Cullinane
hugh wilde
Jean O’Brien
Eleanor Hooker
Paula McFetridge
Jim Maguire
Ian Maleney
Elvia Vasconcelos
Patricia Looney
Jaki McCarrick
Brid Ni Chumhaill
Tim Groenland
Louise Walsh
Kelly Creighton
Clare McWilliams
David Mc Carthy
Linda Chown
Anne Mulhall
Emma McKervey
Clare Sawtell
Filomena Louro
Mary Noonan
Sue Booth-Forbes
Kelly Sullivan
Tiana M. Fischer
Clare Murphy
Margaret Boushel
Kelli Maloy
Marie-Louise Coolahan
Kathleen McCarthy Banchoff
Émilie Trudeau
Raina Leon
M. Elizabeth Johns
Emily Cullen
Tim McCarthy
Justin Quinn
Susan Tomaselli
Andrew Ó Baoill
Bernadette Gallagher
Niamh Twomey
Donna L. Potts
Karen J McDonnell
Jody AllenRandolph
Alex Pryce
Jane Willow
Eithne Lannon
Elisa Sabbadin
Kate Arthur
Mari Maxwell
Patrick Chapman
Oana Sanziana Marian
Jennifer Connaughton Silva
Clare O’Halloran
Rosemary Jenkinson
Emma CW Freeman
Deirdre Hines
Aurore (Dawn) Blanquier
Paul Bregazzi
Shirani Rajapakse
Celine Leduc
Susan Connolly
Reuben Woolley
Deborah RyanI see
Patrick Deeley
Janet Ryan
Alistriona Ni Cionaoith
Jill Nicholls
Deirdre Devally
Susan Cahill
Margaret Kelleher
Martina Evans
dr. benay blend
Dr Vacy Vlazna
Eamonn Sheehy
Milena Williamson
Simon Lewis
John Goodby
Anne Casey
Kerry Campion
Jessica Masterson
Máighréad Medbh
Florence Impens



70 thoughts on “Sign The Pledge”

  1. We have been at the forefront of inclusion of women poets and now we notice a class divide. A good poem is a good poem and is not dependent on gender, class, sexual orientation, colour or creed.We hope that this pledge will work equally hard for working class female poets, and later for inclusion of all omitted (at best) and excluded (at worst) poets, whoever they may be and whatever pigeon hole they may most conveniently be shoved into. All are equal in the eyes of the poetry gods, talent is paramount and the cabals indulging in elitist self interest and cronyism need to be broken. That many gate keepers and members of these cabals will no doubt sign this pledge is indicative of the both hypocrisy and the uphill challenges that Irish poetry faces. Best of luck, Collette and Peadar O’Donoghue editors of PB Mag.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean, we’ve met a few times over the last thirty years, have only just seen this pledge, and clicked yer name to see you’ve won the Arvon International Poetry Prize, and details of your books. Looking forward to reading them, Sarah


  2. A lot of labor (including by anthologists like Ruth Hooley, AA Kelly, Ailbhe Smyth, and the contributors to the “additional” Norton volumes, etc) long ago made a bounty of poetry by Irish women available: there’s been no excuse for exclusion for 30 years. The pledge is almost too easy to commit to, since simple self-interest (i.e. a desire to teach and write and talk about the most compelling work) should require attention to literary and scholarly writing by women. Count me, of course, in.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I’m in that pendulum swing between stunned yet unsurprised that we still have to talk about this, given the abundant and rich vein of work available from Irish women poets. I’m not ‘in the business’ but, as an amateur writer, join my support to this pledge.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Women’s visibility, women’s rights, women’s entitlements, pay-scales, and women’s spaces in Ireland have to be brought into public discourses. Educated and yet marginalised!! Silences! Cultural??!! Why speak of cultural practices elsewhere in the world, when this “developed Western nation” keeps its women under silent wraps?!!
    Its more of a concern for me as a small, brown, migrant woman!!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. The Over The Edge reading series, which I have co-organised with Susan Millar DuMars for the past 15 years, pretty much every year has a majority of women readers. In 2017 over 62% of our readers were women. We also work to give other less-heard-than-they-should-be voices to a good audience. The Over The Edge reading series is one of the most active, and succesfull, opponents of literary elitism, snobbery and chauvinism of every variety.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I absolutely think that the regional and local poetry events are more clued in than the ivory tower poetry-bishopric who have not one clue of the extent of poetry appreciation in this country. We try to eschew dublin-centrism, partly why we launched in Belfast!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Does there need to be more transparency before say publication to keep to the pledge, often times, especially with hardcopy publications you don’t know the gender balance until it’s done and then it’s too late to retract?

    I’m on board with the whole pledge 100%

    And agree with Collette O’Donoghue that all discrimination against poets of class, creed, sex, etc must end. I personally feel my being a woman with lack of a degree in any subject has had its effect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is the issue really, a narrative history that excludes the voices of women in a time of great upheaval (in the formation and development of the Irish State) is very disrespectful. Women’s dialogues with the constitution, with modernity, with their perceived role (domestic) is just bypassed and they suddenly appear in the 1970’s.


  7. I was fired up by the equal gender representation at the O’Bheal winter warmer in December 2017 (thank you to Paul for the invitation), as I am by the long tradition of outspoken, soft-spoken, song-spoken Irish and Irish diaspora women poets. Pledged!


    1. O Bhéal are great, the anthologies and our national literature do not reflect how vibrant the poetry scene actually is, which is a bit shameful. We could do with an audit of what is there , like O bheal, over the edge, poetry bus, salmon, staccato et al and ensure there is good support for them. That is where poetry comes from and not from the halls of academe.


  8. I pledge my support even though I’m not Irish. But I’m a woman and a poet. I’m signing because poetry is not just about women. It’s also not about place, class or color. A good poem is one that touches you and remains with you long after you have read it. Doesn’t matter who wrote it. The beauty painted by words is all that matters. – Shirani Rajapakse “Chant of a Million Women”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your support Shirani. On a sidenote, I do not think that the canonical absence of women poets is solely an Irish problem. The issue seems to be sited in how we view the authority of the poet. A very simplistic approach to authority is to believe that it is in the gift of the male poet. That this absurdity is not challenged daily suggests that people are entirely comfortable with it! Thank you for your comment. C. murray

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I pledge my support. I am a poet in Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland and a member of the Poetry Collective. I went to a lovely event yesterday in the Record Break cafe in Ennis where seven women poets read favourite poems written by other women and from their own work. We were all asked to sign the pledge.

    Liked by 2 people

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