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16 October 2014
Poetry - Study Ireland

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- ages 11-16

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Growing Up

Medbh McGuckian says:

'...the poem is not so much about studying and doing exams as really about the desire to be creative and somehow being very frustrated in that, because of having to be a woman and having to sit still and the lack of adventure in your life really, the lack of adventure in your head. And so it is a poem about wanting to write. And not really being able to find a way of doing that.'

'...I was able to talk about how I was cut off from the street...there is an intensity and a sadness and a loneliness that I felt that I could capture.'

The 'Singer'

In the evenings I used to study
at my mother's old sewing-machine,
pressing my feet occasionally
Up and down on the treadle
as though I were going somewhere
I had never been.

Every year at exams, the pressure mounted-
the summer light bent across my pages
like a squinting eye. The children's shouts
echoed the weather of the street,
a car was thunder,
the ticking of a clock was heavy rain...

In the dark I drew the curtains
on young couples stopping in the entry,
heading home. There were nights
I sent the disconnected wheel
spinning madly round and round
till the empty bobbin rattled in its case.

Medbh McGuckian

Medbh McGuckian was born in Belfast in 1950 where she lives with her family. Her collections include The Flower Master and Other Poems, Venus and the Rain, On Ballycastle Beach, Marconi's Cottage, Captain Lavender and Selected Poems. The McGuckian poem in this selection is The Singer.

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