McManus was born ‘between the bridges’ of Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, in
1964, the fourth in a family of eight siblings. She now lives in Belfast.
Maria has recently left the health service after 28 years in various roles, primarily as a professionally registered Occupational Therapist, but also as a manager and developer of services. Her focus has been adult mental health and the care of older people with dementia.
She was educated at the University of Ulster where she completed both her occupational therapy training and also an MBA. In 2005 she was awarded an MA with distinction in English from Queen’s University, Belfast. She is currently completing International Gestalt Organisations Systems Development training.
In 2005 she was the inaugural winner of the Bedell Scholarship for Literature and World Citizenship awarded by the Aspen Writers’ Foundation, Colorado. Reading the Dog, her first collection of poetry, was runner-up in the 2007 Strong Awards at the Poetry Now International Festival and was also shortlisted for the 2007 Glen Dimplex New Writers Award.
She has been a founding member of Write! Down, a collective of writers who created a platform for new writing, workshops and the performance of the written word in Co Down. Together they have run the Wild Geese Festival as well as regular new writing and special events, such as Poetry on a Sunday Afternoon.
In addition to poetry, Maria has written for the theatre. Her plays and collaborations have been developed and produced by Replay Theatre Company, Red Lead Arts and Tinderbox Theatre Company. She was playwright on attachment to Tinderbox in 2006/07.
She is the mother of two adult daughters, Aislín and Orla.