Medbh McGuckian lives with her family in Belfast, where she was born, raised, and educated. She graduated from Queen's University Belfast and was the first woman to be named writer-in-residence there. She is the author of fifteen volumes, and among many awards, she has received the Eric Gregory Award, the Poetry Society's Alice Hunt Bartlett Prize, the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Denis Devlin Award, the American Ireland Fund Literary Award, and the Forward Prize.
The title of Medbh McGuckian’s newest volume refers to a traditional ballad that commemorates the trial and execution in 1797 of four militia men condemned by the authorities as members of the United Irishmen. The United Irishmen were so named because their failed Rebellion of 1798—among the worst bloodshed Ireland has ever known—was meant to unite Protestants and Catholics.
Always steeped in sensual longing, McGuckian’s poems are historically complex invocations of such volatile landscapes, shedding light on the workings of the private world behind the public conflict. The volume then moves to other scenes of similar contest, including meditations on the Flight of the Earls in the early 1600s and considerations of the two World Wars.
The poems here are conversations full of the strained atmosphere of those times in history, much like the present, when forces for good and ill are poised in delicate balance.Blaris Moor
Wake Forest University Press