September 24, 2010

Irish poet McBreen to give reading

Joan Mcbreen

Irish poet Joan McBreen will give a public reading at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, in the Jones at the Woodruff Library.  

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

Selected books by McBreen will be available for sale and signing.

A display on Level 2 of the library 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.

McBreen’s papers join MARBL’s collection of Irish literary works, a collection includes the works and/or papers of W.B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Eamon Grennan, 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, and her 2009 anthology “The Watchful Heart: A New Generation of Irish Poets - Poems and Essays.”

McBreen has become a prominent Irish poet and anthologist, says Ron Schuchard, Goodrich C. White Professor of English and a faculty adviser 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. “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.”  

MARBL manuscript archivist Laura Carroll, who led the processing of the collection, says there are several notable items in the MARBL collection: McBreen’s poetry drafts, showing multiple and meticulous revisions; her correspondence with fellow Irish poets and friends Anne Kennedy, Medbh McGuckian whose papers MARBL also holds, and Grennan; and McBreen’s project notes from “The White Page,” including her ideas, solicitation letters, and thoughts on which poets to include.  

The reading is sponsored by the Irish Studies Program and MARBL.

For more information, call 404.727.6887, e-mail or visit

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