This book offers a wide-ranging analysis of the entire corpus of Medbh McGuckian's published work. Its objective is to provide both a readable synthesis of existing criticism, in a fashion which will be generally useful to academics and students, and also to offer an original contribution to the field of contemporary Irish literary studies on the basis of new research. The book investigates a variety of previously neglected themes, in particular McGuckian's exploration of ideas of creativity and performativity in her poetry. Over the past two decades McGuckian has been recognized by both her fellow poets and by literary critics as one of the most original, daring and important poetic voices in contemporary Ireland. Since 1982 she has published fifteen volumes of poetry, extraordinary not merely for its sustained quality and linguistic and technical virtuosity, but also for its constant evolution and reinvention. This book provides an original perspective on her work both thematically and methodologically. From a thematic perspective, the process of artistic creation is a key preoccupation of McGuckian's poetry which recurs in every volume of her oeuvre but has previously escaped critical attention. By adapting and refining theories of singularity and creativity, the book allows for a coherent analysis of this central aspect of McGuckian's work. Methodologically it differs from previous studies in the scope of its approach. Uniquely, it pursues its investigation across the entire breadth of the poet's published output and emphasizes the thematic unity of individual volumes in the light of the poet's constant change and development. Throughout the book, the reading of McGuckian's work concentrates on poems in their entirety, an approach which has not figured to any notable degree in the existing secondary literature on the poet, not least because of the perceived difficulty of her writing. A critical investigation, however, which respects both the integrity of the individual poems and the internal coherence of her various volumes allows for a far deeper understanding both of the poet's thematic preoccupations and of the evolution of her distinctive poetic voice.
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