All entries for Friday 18 July 2008

July 18, 2008

Medbh McGuckian on Her Poetry

On Being a Poet from Belfast

I don’t write about ‘The Troubles’ but in 1968 the conflict did filter into me – did give me a sense of dislocation, a sense of being two people or a divided personality. (2)

On Language

I just take an assortment of words, though not exactly at random, and I fuse them. It’s like embroidery. […] They are very intricate, my poems, a weaving of patterns of ins and outs ad contradictions, one thing playing off another. I guess there’s a narrator somewhere, holding it all together, but I don’t feel it’s necessarily me. I feel there is someone else writing the poem sometimes. (2)

On Her Own Name

The fact that I spell my name in Irish is significant, because it’s a re-Gaelicized version of what was previously anglicized. In a way I’m an English poet, trying to reverse into an Irishness that is a impossible dream. I was christened ‘Maeve’. (5)

On Home

We’re all just adopted. Ireland doesn’t care about us, nor England. We feel we don’t have any roots. (6)

Finding Irishness

My name, Medbh, is quite important, because I am repudiating the Anglicization of myself. And some part of me is desperately seeking a spiritual reunion with my native, Irish-speaking, peasant, repressed and destroyed, ancestors and ancestresses. If to be Irish is to be Catholic, at the same time as you’re trying to get away from the anglicization of yourself, you are also trying to get away from the colonization of your soul by Roman Catholicism. I can’t accept that kind of restriction. I’m trying to re-christianize myself, to get back to whatever true Christianity is. (6)

McGuckian, Medbh. 1990. Interview by Rebecca E. Wilson. Sleeping with Monsters: Conversations with Scottish and Irish Poets. Ed. Gillian Somerville-Arjat and Rebecca E. Wilson. Edinburgh: Polygon. 1-7.

A Dialogue with Medh McGuckian:
Contemporary Writers Entry:
Interview on The Argotist:
Poetry International Web Entry:

Further Reading
Murphy, Shane. “Obliquity in the Poetry of Paul Muldoon and Medbh McGuckian.” Eire-Ireland 31.3-4 (1996): 76-101.

-. ”’You took Away My Biography’: The Poetry of Medbh McGuckian.” Irish University Review 28.1 (1998) 110-32.

O’Connor, Mary. ”’Rising Out’: Medbh McGuckian’s Destabilizing Poetics.” Eire-Ireland. 30.4 (1996): 154-72.

Porter, Susan. “The ‘Imaginative Space’ of Medbh McGuckian.” International Women’s Writing: New Landscapes of Identity. Eds. Anne E. Brown & Marjanne E. Gooze. Westport, Ct.: Greenwood Press, 1995.


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