Crossing the Lines: Borders, Transgressions, and a Spot of Smuggling

Campbell, Siobhan (2017). Crossing the Lines: Borders, Transgressions, and a Spot of Smuggling. New Hibernia Review, 21(4) pp. 11–19.



Growing up in Dublin in the 1960s and ’70s, the poet Siobhán Campbell was well aware that she lived in a world of borders—the geographic one that stood between her family and their relatives in the North, and also the borders of decorum, propriety, and identity. In an engaging, unspooling memoir, she teases out several sorts of boundaries that she and her family felt. These days, Brexit and speculation about what it will mean for the Irish border is on everyone’s lips, but Campbell reminds us that internalized borders can be just as potent—yet, as she matured, Campbell found that even supposedly intractable borders have a way of growing permeable: petty smuggling (some of it ingenious in its deception) became almost a game for her family, family secrets eventually came to light, and tribal identities slowly broke down over generations. The most recent of Siobhán Campbell’s five books of poetry is Heat Signature (2017)

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