The Thankless Paths to Freedom

Date Thursday 23 March 2023
Time 1:00 PM
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The Thankless Paths to Freedom


This March we are excited to welcome Imagine Festival as they bring to The Crescent a whole host of events.

Medbh McGuckian was born in Belfast where she is an Honorary Lecturer at Queen’s University.

Among the accolades she has received are the Rooney Prize, the American Ireland Fund Literary Award and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Aberdeen. She is a member of Aosdána. She has over fifteen poetry collections, the most recent of which is The Thankless Paths to Freedom (Gallery Press, 2022).

Paul Muldoon says Medbh McGuckian is “one of our most alert and alluring poets” and chose The Thankless Paths to Freedom as one of his books of the year in the Sunday Independent.

Riffing on and repeating words the majority of the poems in The Thankless Paths to Freedom were conceived in the hiatus between Ireland’s centenary celebrations for the 1916 Rising and the hundred year anniversary of the setting up of the Northern Irish state in 1921. Images of cells and privation, isolation and penitentiaries, abound.

The poetic persona itself seems to form a prison; landscape and environment are equally enslaved. The dominant Yeatsian muse is Constance Markievicz in her paradoxical history of privilege and sacrifice.

As this constantly inventive poet writes, ‘the only way I could // achieve an intentional fall was / to become plural, to reassemble . . . and haunt myself’.


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