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Peter McDonald

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  • Peter McDonald was born in Belfast in 1962. His first book of poetry, Biting the Wax, was published in 1989, and since then six volumes of his verse have appeared, including his Collected Poems (2012). He has written four books of literary criticism, including Mistaken Identities: Poetry and Northern Ireland (1997) and Sound Intentions: The Workings of Rhyme in Nineteenth-Century Poetry (2012). He is Professor of British and Irish Poetry in Oxford University.

    Author photo: Michal Mecner
    'McDonald is often impressively adept at using varied metres for cadence, musicality, tension. He resists the over-dramatic, but is a poet of fierce feeling - moved and often moving.'
    TLS
    'Peter McDonald's unsettling imagination occupies a middle distance between domesticity and wilderness - what he calls 'the melancholy distance'. His fine elegies and love poems have in common a cool intonation and an argumentative persistence: the overlap is a telling one. McDonald's disenchanted vision makes the moments of intimacy and tenderness, when they come, all the more affecting. In addition, his profound literary intelligence thrives on metrical and stanzaic challenge, and ranges with relish from gnomic brevity to sustained meditation, narrative and memoir. These poems, which with their gently syncopated lines may seem understated, register the uneasiness and the excitement of 'the buzzing world': they are, in the poet's own words, 'back roads to everywhere'.
    Michael Longley
    'Hugely impressive... not just rich but endlessly varied and subtle... marvellous.'
    David Wheatley, Irish Times
    '€˜Peter McDonald's unsettling imagination occupies a middle distance between domesticity and wilderness... [his] disenchanted vision makes the moments of intimacy and tenderness, when they come, all the more affecting.'
    Michael Longley, CBE
     'McDonald's work 'is entirely in keeping with Milton's enjoinder that poetry be "simple, sensuous and passionate". His musicality is not just rich but endlessly varied and subtle. [...] It embodies the values of accuracy, conscience, and restraint but with no skimping of intensity or ferocity.'
    David Wheatley, Irish Times
    Awards won by Peter McDonald Short-listed, 2017 London Hellenic Prize (The Homeric Hymns)
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