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Five Poems

Medbh McGuckian, 7 June 1984

... Too Much Yellow Near-sighted, I would not lift my eyes From either my floor-length gown or my Pastel mood. There was too much yellow For my temperature to rise a lot At sunset into new mays and may nots: I was afraid to see the ever dancelike Breast of cloud swirl open in the sky As my garments. Promising a son, To him, to memory, I could not love His love, and all that came after Was a mere continuation of that August night I waited out the rain In someone’s gateway of sudden orphan- Hood where a flower shop had stood; Trying to make out his disobedient Window was the drawer for all its suffering Going in and out again as correctly as it should Like a child’s hand running in a man’s ...

Eternal Feminine

Ian Gregson, 7 January 1993

Landlocked 
by Mark Ford.
Chatto, 51 pp., £5.99, February 1992, 0 7011 3750 9
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The English Earthquake 
by Eva Salzman.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, May 1992, 1 85224 177 2
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Bleeding Heart Yard 
by William Scammell.
Peterloo, 63 pp., £6.95, May 1992, 1 871471 28 1
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The Game: Tennis Poems 
by William Scammell.
Peterloo, 48 pp., £6, June 1992, 1 871471 27 3
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Marconi’s Cottage 
by Medbh McGuckian.
Bloodaxe, 110 pp., £6.95, May 1992, 1 85224 197 7
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... women, on the other hand, represent ‘the word made flesh, and flesh made whole’. And to read Medbh McGuckian you’d think he was right. This is écriture feminine with a vengeance. The trouble is that it confirms what men most complacently think about women: that they’re dreamy, irrational, mystical, maternal, domestic, garrulous, a bit ...

Tropical Storms

Blake Morrison, 6 September 1984

Poems of Science 
edited by John Heath-Stubbs and Phillips Salman.
Penguin, 328 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 0 14 042317 6
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The Kingfisher 
by Amy Clampitt.
Faber, 92 pp., £4, April 1984, 0 571 13269 3
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The Ice Factory 
by Philip Gross.
Faber, 62 pp., £3.95, June 1984, 0 571 13217 0
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Venus and the Rain 
by Medbh McGuckian.
Oxford, 57 pp., £4.50, June 1984, 0 19 211962 1
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Saying hello at the station 
by Selima Hill.
Chatto, 48 pp., £2.95, June 1984, 0 7011 2788 0
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Dreaming Frankenstein and Collected Poems 
by Liz Lochhead.
Polygon, 159 pp., £2.95, May 1984, 0 904919 80 3
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News for Babylon: The Chatto Book of West Indian-British Poetry 
edited by James Berry.
Chatto, 212 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 9780701127978
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Human Rites: Selected Poems 1970-1982 
by E.A. Markham.
Anvil, 127 pp., £7.95, May 1984, 0 85646 112 1
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Midsummer 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 79 pp., £3.95, July 1984, 0 571 13180 8
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... goods train, trundling a series of shackled-together images behind the engine of its main theme. Medbh McGuckian, occasionally linked with the Martians but from a different almost French Symbolist line, made her name as a bizarre and original talent some five years ago with a prize-winning poem called ‘The Flitting’, which ends with the memory of a ...

Sssnnnwhuffffll

Mark Ford, 19 January 1989

The Irish for No 
by Ciaran Carson.
Bloodaxe, 63 pp., £4.95, July 1988, 9781852240752
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On Ballycastle Beach 
by Medbh McGuckian.
Oxford, 59 pp., £4.95, June 1988, 0 19 282106 7
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Themes on a Variation 
by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 166 pp., £6.95, May 1988, 0 85635 778 2
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Metro 
by George Szirtes.
Oxford, 68 pp., £4.95, June 1988, 0 19 282096 6
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April Galleons 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 97 pp., £8.95, June 1988, 0 85635 776 6
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... suspends the historical consciousness that has seemed inescapable elsewhere in the book. Medbh McGuckian, by contrast, and unusually for an Ulster poet, avoids all issues of this kind in her work. Her poems are fabricated solely out of the textures of her inner experience, and tend to melt into each other across the page, drenching the reader in ...

Belonging

John Kerrigan, 18 July 1996

The ‘O’o’a’a’ Bird 
by Justin Quinn.
Carcanet, 69 pp., £7.95, March 1995, 1 85754 125 1
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Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet in Our Time 
by Eavan Boland.
Carcanet, 254 pp., £18.95, April 1995, 1 85754 074 3
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Collected Poems 
by Eavan Boland.
Carcanet, 217 pp., £9.95, November 1995, 1 85754 220 7
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Captain Lavender 
by Medbh McGuckian.
Gallery Press, 83 pp., £11.95, November 1994, 9781852351427
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... the younger Irish women poets cited in Object Lessons: Eileen Ní Chuilleanáin, Paula Meehan and Medbh McGuckian. If these women are discouraged by history from becoming subjects in an Irish poem, they find syntactical and semantic means to new perspectives. As her latest book, Captain Lavender, brilliantly shows, ...

Green Martyrs

Patricia Craig, 24 July 1986

The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse 
edited by Thomas Kinsella.
Oxford, 423 pp., £12.50, May 1986, 0 19 211868 4
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The Faber Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry 
edited by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 415 pp., £10.95, May 1986, 0 571 13760 1
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Irish Poetry after Joyce 
by Dillon Johnston.
Dolmen, 336 pp., £20, September 1986, 0 85105 437 4
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... contributors, but John Montague got him into the Faber anthology. Simmons Paulin, Ormsby, Carson, McGuckian ... the list goes on. Perhaps the most singular omission, though, is that of Michael Longley, whose Poems 1963-83, issued last year by the Salamander Press, shows a poet of incomparable fluency and discernment. When it comes to the Heaney selection ...

The Whole Bustle

Siobhan Kilfeather, 9 January 1992

The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing 
edited by Seamus Deane.
Field Day Publications/Faber, 4044 pp., £150, November 1991, 0 946755 20 5
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... from Eibhlin Dhubh Ni Chonaill and Mary Barber in the 18th century to Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill and Medbh McGuckian, with Maria Edgeworth, excellently introduced by W.J. MacCormack, the only woman to whom a whole section is devoted. This is by no means a lamentable showing, and the editors might argue that given the state of feminist history in Ireland in ...

Millom

Alan Hollinghurst, 18 February 1982

Sea to the West 
by Norman Nicholson.
Faber, 64 pp., £3, June 1981, 0 571 11729 5
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Out for the Elements 
by Andrew Waterman.
Carcanet, 151 pp., £3.95, October 1981, 0 85635 377 9
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Between Here and Now 
by R.S. Thomas.
Macmillan, 110 pp., £5.95, November 1981, 0 333 32186 3
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Poetry Introduction Five 
Faber, 121 pp., £5.25, January 1982, 0 571 11793 7Show More
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... True Story’, about British social prejudice and his own relationship to this, as an Irishman. In Medbh McGuckian the emotion is not sufficiently reined, and dictates an intensely personal and impenetrable kind of work. The pre-eminent talent of this anthology, however, is Michael Hofmann, its youngest contributor. Though his work is somewhat pleased ...

Davie’s Rap

Neil Corcoran, 25 January 1990

Under Briggflatts: A History of Poetry in Great Britain 1960-1988 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 261 pp., £18.95, October 1989, 0 85635 820 7
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Annunciations 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 55 pp., £5.95, November 1989, 0 19 282680 8
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Possible Worlds 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 68 pp., £6.95, September 1989, 0 19 282660 3
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The boys who stole the funeral: A Novel Sequence 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 71 pp., £6.95, October 1989, 0 85635 845 2
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... that, inter alia, Douglas Dunn, Craig Raine, Christopher Reid, Anne Stevenson, Paul Muldoon, Medbh McGuckian and James Fenton are absent because Davie thinks they play no significant part in this history, then what are we to make of the omissions of J.H. Prynne and Roy Fisher, heroes of Davie’s earlier study of the contemporary, Thomas Hardy and ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... Anne Stevenson, Craig Raine, James Fenton, Andrew Motion, Derek Mahon, Fleur Adcock, Carol Rumens, Medbh McGuckian, Penelope Shuttle and others. Geoffrey Hill, Dannie Abse, Denise Levertov, Peter Red-grove, U.A. Fanthorpe, Gillian Clarke, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Elaine Feinstein are all variously represented, opening out the Sixties, Seventies and ...

Social Arrangements

John Bayley, 30 December 1982

The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry 
edited by Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion.
Penguin, 208 pp., £1.95, October 1982, 0 14 042283 8
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The Rattle Bag 
edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes.
Faber, 498 pp., £10, October 1982, 0 571 11966 2
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... or her famous ‘Blackberrying’, with the poems in the present collection by Penelope Shuttle or Medbh McGuckian. All three poets seem to be doing much the same thing and doing it well. Their interest in and skill with words in relation to objects in their daily living are like the meticulous recipes in Colour Supplements and the perfect photographs of ...

Good enough for Jesus

Charlotte Brewer, 25 January 1990

The State of the Language: 1990 Edition 
edited by Christopher Ricks and Leonard Michaels.
Faber, 531 pp., £17.50, January 1990, 9780571141821
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Clichés and Coinages 
by Walter Redfern.
Blackwell, 305 pp., £17.50, October 1989, 0 631 15691 7
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Rhetoric: The Wit of Persuasion 
by Walter Nash.
Blackwell, 241 pp., £25, October 1989, 0 631 16754 4
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... them Sidney Greenbaum and Randolph Quirk) jostle with poets and novelists (including Medbh McGuckian and Amy Tan). David Dabydeen writes ‘On Not Being Milton: Nigger Talk in England Today’, and discusses, in impeccably establishment English, a question that might just as well come under ‘Art’: how does a black writer in English find ...

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