Review of Imbolg in Poetry Ireland Review
Many thanks to Richard Hayes for his review of Imbolg in Poetry Ireland Review Issue 134, Autumn 2021. Here's an excerpt:
Máighréad Medbh's impressive, impressionistic Imbolg is by far the most innovative book of those under review . . . Imbolg is elusive and defies easy summary . . . there is a curious unmooring from self in Medbh's poems . . . ; one aspect that is compelling about the book is its attempt to reimagine the personal lyric. The 'she' in 'Before,' for instance, is not a proxy for the author, and yet neither is she an impersonation or a character in a drama; this is not a poetry of self-revelation . . .
The rejection of limitation in favour of pure instinct is a distinctly Romantic notion, and there is something Romantic about Medbh's confident willingness to let the poetry take her where it takes her and to trust that fidelity to the time and the place will be revelatory, as it repeatedly is . . . The book's strange vitality derives from the attentiveness of the poet to the shifting nature of experience.
Imbolg is quite substantial for a poetry book, as it is in effect two 'collections.' Alan Hayes of Arlen House printed it on very soft paper with a lovely matte cover. More than any other of my books, I just enjoy holding it.
Imbolg was the Celtic festival of Spring. Literally, it is ‘in the belly,’ referring to gestation. The eponymous poem begins Part I with a defiant re-birth from a womb of mirrors, leading to poems of change, with its shadows and highs. The first three parts of the book were written between 2009 and 2016. Parts 2 and 3 comprise three quirky narratives and three long exploratory poems, including the prize-winning ‘Easter 2016.’ Part 4 is a ‘Lockdown Diary,’ written between March 12 and April 30, 2020.
Time plays a huge part in its many forms – expanding, contracting, disappearing. There is constant movement, especially in ‘the second of April’ and ‘Lockdown Diary’ – where the speaker often moves like a revenant past silent houses and closed commercial buildings. Sensual pleasure is also very much in the frame, and a pervasive element of irony and play. As a whole, Imbolg is a kind of performance, with unusual perspectives on shared experience.
what makes the eyes that pursue in empty rooms.
but they’re not eyes. and there are no introverts.
neither are rooms empty. purposes live in.
we know how to abide in the giant pulse.
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