Reading the Dog

Maria McManus

About the book…

We sit here together
sitting the dance steps and snapshots of our lives;
our daughters; our compound fractures of homes
like mirror images; the state ot our world,
wars, the weather and whether
these olives are tor sharing:
We know punk rebellions set us free
and we don't want to die.
­ from ‘Lunchtime with Rosie’

Maria McManus’ long-awaited debut collection, Reading the Dog, sees a poet already assured in her poetic voice.

As befitting a poet of the new post-ceasefire Northern Ireland, McManus exults in the northern vernacular and is finely attuned to the new imaginative realities and ironies underlying what was once the apparently quotidian.

Reading the Dog joyously embraces a variety of tones and colours ­ a wry mordancy, an acerbic plaintiveness, a self-doubting uncertainty, a loving wistfulness and, at times, a compelling anger - to produce a varied and satisfying collection.

Whether writing of the lost worlds of childhood, the idealism and silliness of adolescence, the ever-shifting tones of love and human relationships, orthe all-too-stark realities of political conflict, McManus confidently explores with a painfully-achieved individual sensibility a world recognisably of today and of our own place.


Photo of the author, Maria McManus

About the author…

Maria 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.