Poet Medbh McGuckian tells the tales of her triumphs and hardships as she forged a life as one of our foremost wordsmiths.
BBC2 (Northern Ireland)
10pm, Wednesday 3 February
When Medbh McGuckian won the National Poetry Prize in 1979 with her poem ‘The Flitting’, she was thrust onto the world stage as a woman who could do battle in a predominantly male poetry scene. More importantly, it gave her the confidence to emerge from the shadow of her mentor, Seamus Heaney, and take her place beside a host of highly decorated contemporaries like Ciaran Carson, Paul Muldoon and Frank Ormsby.
Medbh’s poetry is different. It is highly personal. The scars of her life seep through her pages. While others buried their noses in books looking for inspiration, Medbh wrote of her struggles with childbirth and the darkness of a life marked by mental illness. That darkness was mirrored by the backdrop of the Northern Irish troubles, and while not always obvious in her poetry, it is omnipresent.
Medbh’s poems are brought to life through recitals and performances as she remembers the poems that defined her life and career.