“Across the divide / Of the Andes”: Harry Clifton and Latin America
- Atacama Desert,
- Harry Clifton,
- Irish poetry,
- Latin America
In his poems of Latin America, Harry Clifton (b. 1952) illuminates “the region of the world most neglected by the Irish state” (Peadar Kirby). Since his return to live in Ireland in 2004, Clifton has sought deeper clarification of his paternal (Irish) and maternal (Latin American) roots. This essay explores how Clifton’s cosmopolitanism draws on the freedoms of placelessness alongside the geographical specificities of place broaching issues of colonialism, language and identity. The desolate aridity of the Atacama region of northern Chile and bohemian Buenos Aires are connected to a newly cosmopolitan Ireland. These poems mark Clifton’s successful coming home linking his Irish and Latin American origins.