In her Irish Times review of Medbh McGuckian’s most recent collection, Marine Cloud Brightening, Martina Evans described her as ‘more relevant than ever, eerily prescient, [she] continues her unique mining of verbal language’. Riffing on and repeating words the majority of the poems in The Thankless Paths to Freedom were 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’.