“Diaspora as a word is interesting. It’s interesting that the Irish adopted it.”
How we see ourselves and how others see us. Are they ever the same? And which one – if either – is a true reflection?
These are heady matters and it’s no surprise that Tony Murray addresses them in our chat. As a senior lecturer in creative writing at London Metropolitan University , as well as in his roles with the Irish Writers in London Summer School and the Archive of the Irish In Britain, it’s going to end up being one of those questions that will always be asked.
I’m not sure we come up with an answer, and I’m not sure we’re supposed to.
Tony demonstrates the dichotomy that typifies the diaspora: absence and presence, turning points and the fated flow of history. That’s no surprise, either: after all, as he says, identity is fluid rather than monolithic. It changes over time as much as it does over space.
I have to admit this was another of those daunting ones for me. I mean, look at everything the man’s involved with: archive here, summer school there, his book London Irish Fictions over yonder. Add to all of this the fact that at least one of my previous interviewees was talking of putting him on the Plastic Pedestal and you get the idea: he’s a bit of a noise in these circles.
Instead he was charming, funny and hugely engaging. Not only do we get to talk diaspora, but also about what it is the English seem to want – and whether or not they’ll get it. After all, we are the diaspora: we don’t just come from somewhere else. We live somewhere else. And it’s not just us.
But I’ll let you listen to the rest. It’s worth your time.
That much is certain.