The space that cleaves: the house and hospitality in Medbh McGuckian

Brewster, Scott (2010) The space that cleaves: the house and hospitality in Medbh McGuckian. In: The Poetry of Medbh McGuckian: The Interior of Words. Cork University Press, Cork, pp. 105-116. ISBN 9781859184653

The space that cleaves: the house and hospitality in Medbh McGuckian

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Medbh McGuckian has stressed the centrality of the figure of the house for her poetics, yet to turn the house into the representative ground of femininity is a provocative gesture, given that Irish poetic tradition has tended to delimit history for women in terms of hearth and home. The invitation of home ground can readily transform into an economy of exclusion, silence and vulnerability rather than of shelter, custom and affiliation. In McGuckian’s poetry, which charts ‘typically’ feminine spaces – family networks, gardens, the body and domestic interiors – the identification with the private sphere is ambivalent: the house is both lure and trap, a refuge and a site of containment, resistant to any synthesis of internal and external worlds. In McGuckian’s work, the house is the space that cleaves, the u-topos or impossible dwelling that constitutes profound, originary attachment and a perpetual experience of separation. This ambivalence cannot be thought without regard to the politics of gender, but which cannot be thought only in relation to sexual difference. This essay will examine the conditional hospitality offered by the house in McGuckian’s poetry, and its relation to wider questions about the politics of settlement in Northern Ireland.

Keywords:Medbh McGuckian, Northern Irish Poetry
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q320 English Literature
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q322 English Literature by author
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
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ID Code:15045
Deposited On:25 Sep 2014 09:18

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