'The poems have a kind of verbal intoxication and head-long, devil-may-care adrenalin pumped up with the rhythms of rock, rap, and reggae.'
Andrew Swarbrick, Oxford Times
'History came dramatically to life for pupils of Gaelscoil Ó Doghair when they accepted Máighréad Medbh's invitation to step into the "time-machine" of their imagination.... and through her the fifth and sixth class pupils stepped back in time.... They smelt the cold bleakness of a Famine cabin, they felt the bone-weariness of a starving girl and they understood her anguish as her brother died before her eyes. It was strong stuff and the children absorbed the immense power of it.'
Norma Prenderville, Limerick Leader
'It (Tenant) is incredibly enthralling and moving. It brings to light the cold facts of the years 1845-1849, the injustices, the hopes that were dashed as year after year passed, the weak half-hearted efforts of the British Government to alleviate the famine, and the futile attempts at retaliation by the "boys". When I read these poems, I was living through the famine, and it became so personal at one stage that it brought tears to my eyes. The language is beautiful and sometimes reminiscent of Seamus Heaney or Patrick Kavanagh.'
Madeline Dewhurst, Women's News, Belfast
'...the first poem, 'Threshold', contains elements of spoken Gaelic poetry which are very finely used here.... There is dark, powerful language at work here, which is not devoid of compassion and a desire to know the time and its people as best a contemporary poet can.'
'Medbh avoids sentiment and portentousness. Balancing form and idiom, she uses poetry for what poetry does best - invention, discursiveness, the many voices - while side-stepping cacophony.'
Howard Wright, Poetry Ireland Review
Máighréad Medbh's poems are musical, owning an anxious grit that is provocative ... her work on the whole is brazen and unashamed. As she writes in the second stanza of 'Shapely',
I have let the hair grow under my arms
and now can compare them with yours, my darling,
except mine are moss and yours bushes.
I wear, like you dear, clothes for comfort,
but sometimes I play with history,
decking myself with different shapes
so I can recall other lives.
The Burning Bush, Galway
'Máighréad Medbh's poems nail themselves into your consciousness. The identity of being a human, a woman as in 'The Unbecome'. Feed what feeds her, us. Sex as sacrifice, as a weapon, as self-annihilation, as in 'All Her Fathers' and love as a refuge in 'One Simple Thing'. Read 'The Orange Coat' and you realise that this poet yells out that life demands a truth more terrifying than anyone realises.'
Orfhlaith Ní Fhoighil, Galway Advertiser
'Máighréad Medbh's work is essentially performance poetry, and she has issued a formidable CD, which I'd recommend to anyone who wishes more absolutely to come to grips with her work. 'Split' carries an informative and revealing intro in which she states that "I wasn't always Máighréad Medbh. I took that name when I was thirty, because in this country women inherit their surnames in the male line. I wanted to make a point. That motivation has lessened in importance." Yet the name brought her "closer to what I wanted to be". Perhaps the music played by her mother in Newcastle West, Michael Hartnett territory, had indeed some greater influence on her work; it is difficult to hear Medbh recite her work without thinking, rightly as with all poetry, in terms of music as the underlying cause.
"What I want my poetry to do is to draw meaning from and to the body," she asserts. Perhaps it is more important to hear or see Medbh reciting her work than to try to read it off the page, which is static, unmoving; nevertheless ... the inclusion of Medbh's work here illustrates not only that Irish women are writing poetry but that the more courageous ones are defining anew the way in which it is interpreted, performed and understood. Watching Medbh perform her poems is to be hauled into a deeply feminine, sensual world of action beyond the mere words. Can any of this come from the static page? Well, some of the essence of it can, perhaps.
Since the night you fed me oysters,
offered the smooth grey flesh on a casual fork,
and I wrapped my mouth around it,
sucked on the cool prongs,
took ice-cream too from your spoon
as though you had always been my feeder....
Wonderfully, she has set a poem, 'Tabernacle', to the air of 'Venite Adoremus':
I'm weighted with your presence,
with diamond rings and pendants.
No bird could take to flight,
these stones on her feet...
Medbh's magic is to remind us - men and women alike - that life is performance, and that creatively describing it requires a form of action, linguistic, physical or both. A bit like making love; and like love the poet to be true must describe with equal intensity the dark and light.'
Fred Johnston, Books Ireland