News Release: Arts and Humanities, Events

Sep. 22,  2010

Irish Poet to Give Public Reading

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Irish poet Joan McBreen will give a public reading at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30 at Woodruff Library on the Emory University campus.

The reading will be followed by a reception to celebrate the completed processing of McBreen’s papers, which she placed with the Emory’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) in 2008. Both events are free and open to the public.

McBreen’s papers join MARBL’s rich collection of Irish literary works, dubbed an “Irish literary village” by Irish poet Eamon Grennan, who placed his papers with the library last spring. MARBL’s collection also includes the works and/or papers of W.B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon and Paul Muldoon.

McBreen has published several volumes of poetry, including “The Wind Beyond the Wall” (1990), “A Walled Garden in Moylough” (1995), “Winter in the Eye: New and Selected Poems” (2003) and “Heather Island” (2009).

She is more widely known as the editor of two anthologies. “The White Page: Twentieth-Century Irish Women Poets,” published in 1999, garnered praise for drawing attention to overlooked female poets. Her 2009 anthology, “The Watchful Heart: A New Generation of Irish Poets - Poems and Essays,” highlights lesser-known younger Irish poets and has received positive reviews for its selections.

Mother of six children and a primary school teacher for many years, McBreen quit teaching in 1986 to pursue a career as a poet, taking workshops and getting feedback on her writing. She earned a degree in women’s studies from University College, Dublin, in 1997.

McBreen has become a prominent Irish poet and anthologist, says Ron Schuchard, Goodrich C. White Professor of English and a faculty advisor to MARBL. McBreen was a member of his seminar in 1988 when he was teaching at the Yeats International Summer School in Sligo, Ireland. He began including her poetry in his Emory courses in the mid 1990s and has noticed an increasingly strong interest his students have shown in her work.

“It’s a very subtle poetry of observations and perceptions,” Schuchard says of McBreen’s verse. “It’s not flamboyant or extravagant in any way. She has a wonderful eye and a striking ability to perceive nuances of emotion, and that really resonates with readers, who find the poems accessible and moving.”

A display on Level 2 will accompany the debut of the McBreen papers, showcasing some of the poetry drafts and poems, correspondence with other poets, and her work on The White Page anthology. The display will be on view Sept. 23 through Oct. 7.

The reading will take place in the Jones Room on Level 3 of the Woodruff Library, 540 Asbury Circle, Atlanta, GA 30322. Selected books by McBreen will be available for sale and signing. For more information, call 404.727.6887, e-mail marbl@emory.edu or visit http://marbl.library.emory.edu/news-events.

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