Many of you will have noticed that today is the birthday of the Gatsby fellow, but I want to celebrate another birthday writer, Eavan Boland (b. 1944). She is an important part of the wave of women’s poets in Ireland since about 1970 or so, in what was once (as in, when Boland was a young person) chiefly an Old Boys’ Club. Her Outside History is one of the most stunning statements of women’s experience–and the importance of recognizing that experience–in many decades. You know that Emily Dickinson thing about the top of your head blowing off? Yeah, it was like that for a lot of us. She shows us the value of accurate observation and precise language, the richness of experience even without extravagant gestures. If you haven’t read her, please do. She’s accessible, direct, clear-eyed, and wise.