Medbh McGuckian’s new collection The Thankless Paths to Freedom book launch takes place in the Great Hall at Queens University, Belfast on 13 February at 6pm.
Medbh will be in conversation with Padraig Regan, and sharing some poems from the collection.
The Thankless Paths to Freedom was conceived in the hiatus between Ireland’s centenary celebrations for the 1916 Rising and the hundred-year anniversary of the setting up of the Northern Irish state in 1921. Images of cells and privation, isolation and penitentiaries, abound.
The poetic persona itself seems to form a prison; landscape and environment are equally enslaved. The dominant Yeatsian muse is Constance Markievicz in her paradoxical history of privilege and sacrifice. As this constantly inventive poet writes, ‘the only way I could // achieve an intentional fall was / to become plural, to reassemble . . . and haunt myself’.
Paul Muldoon says Medbh McGuckian is “one of our most alert and alluring poets” and chose The Thankless Paths to Freedom as one of his books of the year in the Sunday Independent.
Padraig Regan‘s debut Collection Some Integrity was published by Carcanet in 2022 and was awarded the Clarissa Luard Award and shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. They the author of two poetry pamphlets: Delicious (Lifeboat, 2016) and Who Seemed Alive & Altogether Real (Emma Press, 2017). In 2015, they were a recipient of an Eric Gregory Award, and in 2020 they were awarded the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary Prize. They hold a PhD on creative-critical and hybridised writing practices in medieval texts and the work of Anne Carson from the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, where they were a Ciaran Carson Writing and the City Fellow in 2021. They are currently Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College Cambridge.