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Máighréad Medbh Bio

Máighréad Medbh was born in Newcastle West, Co. Limerick, Ireland, and currently lives in Swords, Co. Dublin. Following her debut collection, The Making of a Pagan (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1990), the conviction that poetry emerges from one’s body led her to experiment with musical rhythms and moved her towards performance poetry. During the 1990s, she was one of the pioneers of performance poetry in Ireland, and has maintained a reputation for originality and power of presence. Recognised for the quality of her texts as well as that of the delivery, Máighréad has performed on all the media and at a huge variety of venues at home and abroad. She has been described as a unique presence in the Irish literary scene.

Tenant (Cliffs of Moher: Salmon, 1999), her second collection, is a narrative sequence which centres on a fictitious family during the Famine years. Split (in ¡Divas!, Galway: Arlen House, 2003) delves into questions of individuality and relationship. In 2009, When the Air Inhales You was published by Arlen House. A mix of themes and styles in the first part of this collection leads into Part 2, a requiem in twenty-two short poems. Her fifth collection, Twelve Beds for the Dreamer (Dublin: Arlen House, 2010), is a sequence exploring dreams and the inner life. She has also produced a CD, Out of My Skin, which contains some of the more popular poems from her performances.

Máighréad has been published in numerous journals and anthologies. The most recent anthologies are: Forked Tongues: Galician, Basque and Catalan Women’s Poetry in Translations by Irish Writers, ed. Manuela Palacios, Bristol: Shearsman Books, 2012; Shine On, ed. Pat Boran, Dublin: Dedalus Press, 2011; Dogs Singing, ed. Jessie Lendennie (Cliffs of Moher: Salmon Poetry, 2010); and To The Winds Our Sails: Irish Writers Translate Galician Poets, ed. Mary O’Donnell and Manuela Palacios (Cliffs of Moher: Salmon Poetry 2010).

Máighréad's prose work, Savage Solitude: Reflections of a Reluctant Loner (Dublin: Dedalus, 2013), is an exploration of the mind of a solitary, springing from experience and research. This is a prose work in aphoristic dialogues and linked pensées. Unpublished prose work includes the first in a planned four-volume story for young readers, a fantasy for teens and adults, and two literary novels.

Sample Reviews

“Medbh avoids sentiment and portentousness. Balancing form and idiom, she uses poetry for what poetry does best – invention, discursiveness, the many voices – while side-stepping cacophony.”
(Re Tenant, Poetry Ireland Review, Spring 2000)

“Medbh’s magic is to remind us – men and women alike – that life is a performance, and that creatively describing it requires a form of action, linguistic or physical or both.”
(Books Ireland, February 2004)