In Medbh McGuckian’s most ambitious collection, elegies and laments for disturbances of the day fit a previous whirlwind moment, the insurgence of United Irishmen in 1798. Five sections accommodate insistent voices of ghosts from the past, the Rising itself, the quelling of that rebellion through executions, incarcerations and violent losses. A number of shorter poems add energy and urgency to the book’s growing awareness of the fact of a buried tragedy. Ultimately, Shelmalier is a book of consoling art and lasting meaning, at once a memorial and an example for our time.
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‘Beyond their linguistic intricacies, these are, finally, extraordinary poems about everyday life. It is time more of us read them.’
— Stephen Burt, TLS
‘Medbh McGuckian’s latest volume of poetry, Shelmalier, reveals the poet continuing her explorations of the relationships among language and the (usually female) body and inner and outer realities, at the same time that it seems to mark a new and exciting stage in her poetic life.’
—Helen V. Emmitt, Irish Literary Supplement
Year Published: 1998
ISBN PBK: 978 1 85235 220 2