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The Poetry of Medbh McGuckian: The Interior of Words
The Poetry of Medbh McGuckian: The Interior of Words

Our Price:39.00
Authors: Shane Alcobia-Murphy and Richard Kirkland
Affiliation: University of Aberdeen and King's College London
Publication Year: Hardback 2010
Pages: 272
Size: 234x156mm

ISBN: 9781859184653


This is the first collection of essays solely dedicated to the achievement of this remarkable Irish poet. The book contains eleven essays by internationally known scholars, a new interview with McGuckian herself, and a detailed bibliography. McGuckian's critical reputation has grown dramatically over the last decade and she is now a poet with an international reputation. This collection provides a timely and engaging appraisal of her work.

Author of twelve collections of poetry, Medbh McGuckian is one of Northern Ireland's foremost poets. Her poetry now appears as standard reading on courses on Irish literature and culture both in Europe and in the US. Alongside this, her work is also often featured in composition and poetics courses. As this suggests, her work is not confined to the Irish Studies constituency. Because one of the major themes of her work is female consciousness and creativity she is also frequently studied on women's studies programmes and courses on feminism. As the first book to concentrate solely on McGuckian's achievement, this collection will become the standard work for anyone interested in her work.

Shane Alcobia-Murphy: Introduction
Michaela Schrage-Fruh: Speaking as the North: Self and Place in the Early Poetry of Medbh McGuckian
Catriona Clutterbuck: A Gibbous Voice: The Poetics of Subjectivity in the Early Poetry of Medbh McGuckian
Helen Blakeman: 'Poetry Must Almost Dismantle the Letters' : McGuckian, Mallarmé and Polysemantic Play
Elin Holmsten: Signs of Encounters in Medbh McGuckian's Poetry
Scott Brewster: The Space that Cleaves: The House and Hospitality in Medbh McGuckian's Work
Conor Carville: Warding Off an Epitaph: Had I a Thousand Lives
Shane Alcobia-Murphy: 'That Now Historical Ground' : Memory and Atrocity in the Poetry of Medbh McGuckian
Richard Kirkland: Medbh McGuckian and the Politics of Minority Discourse
Borbola Farrago: 'They Come Into It' : The Muses of Medbh McGuckian
Leontia Flynn: Re-assembling the Atom: Reading Medbh McGuckian's Intertextual Materials
Shane Alcobia-Murphy and Richard Kirkland: Interview with Medbh McGuckian
Clair Wills: Coda

Dr Shane Alcobia-Murphy, Department of English, University of Aberdeen, is the author of Sympathetic Ink: Intertextual Relations in Northern Irish Poetry (2006). Professor Richard Kirkland, Department of English, King's College London, is the author of Cathal O'Byrne and the Northern Revival in Ireland, 1890-1950 (2006).

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  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Medbh McGuckian is an extraordinarily talented poe January 10, 2011
Reviewer: Rebecca Pelan Australian Journal of Irish Studies from Republic of Ireland  
Medbh McGuckian is an extraordinarily talented poet whose work is  amongst the most original and experimental in the English language  today. She remains the one woman poet from Northern Ireland whose  name is regularly included alongside an otherwise exclusively male  group of Northern poets  and her work has been internationally known  for some considerable time. But common criticisms of McGuckian s  poetry range from the suggestion that she has remained an apolitical  poet who has refused to engage with the sectarian politics around her  to  one who is overly fixated on the inner  private life of woman as mother  and artist. Above all else  however  McGuckian is known as an  obscure  and esoteric writer   p. 4  who produces inaccessible and difficult  poetry. This was the view of Patrick Williams in his 1989 review of her  collection On Ballycastle Beach:  if lines are so arbitrary that they mean  more or less anything  then necessarily they mean more or less nothing    p. 177 . It is with this aspect of the poet s work that the essays in this  collection are most concerned. Explicitly named as a key function of the  collection is the desire to provide  interpretative pathways into  McGuckian s work  to account for its hypnotic beauty and to provide  theoretical models  which help explain its supposed  obscurity    p. 18 .  This is the first book of essays solely dedicated to McGuckian s  work. It consists of eleven essays  which cover a very broad range of  topics and theoretical perspectives: Michaela Schrage Fr h undertakes  an examination of self and place in McGuckian s early poetry  in terms  of national and political consciousness  and with a particular focus on   The Rising Out   read in relation to Yeats s  Easter 1916   to argue that  it is an inherently political poem  but one that rejects the conventional  equation between the female body and national territory. Catriona  Clutterbuck draws on psychoanalytic theory  principally that of Julia  Kristeva  to demonstrate the poetics of subjectivity in the early poetry  while Helen Blakeman also draws on Kristevan theory to undertake a  comparative reading of McGuckian with the Symbolist texts of  Mallarm  in order to show that the oeuvre of each poet demonstrates the  instrumentation of what  in reference to Lacanian theory  can be termed   polysemantic play . Elin Holmsten examines samples of McGuckian s  poetry through the lens of post structuralist and French feminist  perspectives on language to show the ways in which the poet attempts  to revitalize language through a departure from restrictive modes of  writing. Scott Brewster then uses a Levinasian theoretical model to  examine both the house and hospitality in McGuckian s  house poems    concluding that they offer a  fable of interlocution  where we overhear  our own strangeness and yet remain capable of hearing  and responding  to  other others   p. 115 . Using McGuckian s Had I a Thousand Lives   2003   Conor Carville investigates the rationale behind McGuckian s  act of naming as a practice of remembrance  suggesting ultimately that  this single collection allows us as readers to  at once  participate in the  painstaking process of remembrance  particularly that associated with  Irish nationalism  and to acknowledge the difficulties of such a  commemorative enterprise. Editors Shane Alcobia Murphy and  Richard Kirkland look at memory and atrocity in McGuckian s poetry  and the politics of minority discourse  respectively. Borb la Farag   investigates the different guises of the muse in McGuckian s poetry   whether men  women  angels or readers  and concludes that their  presence constitutes a manifestation of both a pre Platonic and a post   Romantic figure. Leontia Flynn s chapter engages with specifically  identified muses  namely the authors that the poet borrows from when  constructing her poetry.  The anthology also includes a lengthy interview with McGuckian by  the editors  Alcobia Murphy and Kirkland  which provides excellent  insights into McGuckian the person  the woman and the poet. Especially  interesting in the interview is McGuckian s honest discussion of her  working methods and pattern of  borrowing  from other sources  which   in her opinion  represents a  way of asserting [her] rights; it s a way of  getting back [her] freedom in the language   p. 199 . Equally valuable is  Clair Wills  Afterword  which addresses the often critical  misunderstanding of McGuckian s intense concern with carving out a  place for herself in a poetic tradition  which Wills suggests was  achieved by  studied  moves  rather than any straightforward assault on  authority  p. 210 . Wills suggests that although the anthology and  McGuckian herself acknowledge the different phases of the poetry the   virginal   the moralizing  the death sequence  the political and the  period of serenity   suspicious of the peace process   p. 210   it is also  important to recognize the common concerns that bind these phases into  a whole.  I do have to question whether the stated aim of the essays as being to   rescue McGuckian from obscurity  in all senses    p. 4  has been  achieved or  in fact  could ever be achieved. This is a seriously scholarly  piece of work  engaged with a very scholarly poet and  as a result  the  theoretical perspectives deployed could work to complicate the poetry  even more for some readers. Fans of McGuckian and of literary theory  will truly appreciate it. I doubt that anyone who is not already a fan will  be won over by this selection. By and large  however  this is a very  welcome addition to the fields of Irish/Northern Irish poetry  Irish  women s poetry  McGuckian studies and Irish studies.

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