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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

Captain Lavender

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The poems in this fourth collection by Belfast poet Medbh McGuckian are located along a fault line where two surfaces badly meet; where what can be stopped or held or escaped grinds against what once could but can no longer. Water is the reigning metaphor: apt in its mutable demarcations, its squalls and shipwrecks.

That these poems are so insistently personal only makes them more convincingly political. The partitioning wall is “unusually high, / interwoven like the materials for a nest, / the airtight sensation of slates: / all as gracefully apart as a calvary from a crib.” There is nothing flippant nor trivial here. Lush with simile and sound (“I was born in little pieces, like specks of dust, / only an eye that looks in all directions can see me”), each poem is a sensuous gravure, a compelling portrait of the divided self, plangent echo of a country at civil war.

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The poems in this fourth collection by Belfast poet Medbh McGuckian are located along a fault line where two surfaces badly meet; where what can be stopped or held or escaped grinds against what once could but can no longer. Water is the reigning metaphor: apt in its mutable demarcations, its squalls and shipwrecks.

That these poems are so insistently personal only makes them more convincingly political. The partitioning wall is “unusually high, / interwoven like the materials for a nest, / the airtight sensation of slates: / all as gracefully apart as a calvary from a crib.” There is nothing flippant nor trivial here. Lush with simile and sound (“I was born in little pieces, like specks of dust, / only an eye that looks in all directions can see me”), each poem is a sensuous gravure, a compelling portrait of the divided self, plangent echo of a country at civil war.

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Publication date:

1995

Binding:

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