. . . a poet I tremendously admire
— Adrienne Rich
In this collection Medbh McGuckian invokes the caul, once preserved above hearths as a charm against drowning and an enduring potent symbol and material reminder of the birth-bond. Justly treasured for an elaborate richness of language and the originality of her metaphorical perspectives, here she focuses on the illnesses and deaths of friends and on her mother’s long, painful decline.
This moving book examines ‘the holy land of the body’ and represents ‘a search for a safe place’, the psychological acceptance of such losses. Spells abound in it, as do Biblical references. Art helps resolve intense emotional and mental disturbance as, by the adventure of her threads of thought and the stepping stones of images, she perfects a balancing act. Through the alchemy of her art Medbh McGuckian transmutes lament into love song.