Few other contemporary British poets combine the intensity of Sarah Maguire’s lyrical imagination with the breadth of her geopolitical reach. From the first poem (‘May Day, 1986’) of her first collection (Spilt Milk), her searchingly intelligent poems interrogated how even the most intimate of experiences (‘the inaudible fizz/in the cells’ of cancer) is refracted through the lens of history (the Chernobyl disaster).

Maguire’s poems, written in often sumptuous language, are always grounded in the precisely realised material world. From specific, sensual observations, they open out, as Robert Potts noted in The Guardian, into a ‘vast context of interconnections: of labour, trade, traffic; the movement of moon and tides; of chemicals, landscapes, weather, people, buildings, machines; and of time and distance crossed by longing, love and loss.’

Born in west London in 1957, Maguire left school early to train as a gardener. Her poems about flowers (many of which are recorded here) typically examine how they come to be ‘cargoed across continents/to fade far from home’ (The Florist’s at Midnight); challenge traditional floral gender relations (‘Hibiscus’, uniquely, addresses a man using the metaphor of a flower); contextualise her experiences as a municipal gardener (‘The Tree Bank at Ten’); and explore the explosive politics of the Palestinian thyme plant (‘Zaatar’).

Maguire’s poems characteristically face difficulty without self-pity. In The Invisible Mender, a profoundly moving poem about her birth mother, she confesses, ‘I know that I’ll not know/…/if your hands…/lie still now, clasped together, underground.’ And in ‘Cloves and Oranges’, she openly accepted the finality of mortality: ‘I will never come back’. As John Burnside observed, ‘Maguire is outstanding: no other poet of her generation writes quite so well, or so poignantly, about the body’.

Founder of the Poetry Translation Centre, responsible for introducing a wide range of international poets into English, Maguire was the only contemporary English-language poet to have a book in print in Arabic, or in Malayalam. In ‘Europe’ Maguire views the continent from the perspective of outsiders, would-be immigrants staring northwards from the Moroccan coast. As Robert Potts noticed, ‘through unrushed, unegotistical contemplation…she integrates herself with the environments she observes.’

Sarah Maguire’s reading style is unusually clear and expressive. The title poems of her four collections are among those included in this special Archive recording.

This recording was made on Feb 11th 2009 at the Audio Workshop, London, and was produced by Anne Rosenfeld.

Poems by Sarah Maguire

The Invisible Mender - Sarah Maguire
The Pomegranates of Kandahar - Sarah Maguire
The Grass Church at Dilston Grove - Sarah Maguire
Spilt Milk - Sarah Maguire
The Florist’s at Midnight - Sarah Maguire
Sarah Maguire in the Poetry Store

The free tracks you can enjoy in the Poetry Archive are a selection of a poet’s work. Our catalogue store includes many more recordings which you can download to your device.

Books by Sarah Maguire



Cholmondeley Award

Prize website

Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London

Prize website

Related Links

This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Find sources: "Sarah Maguire" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (December 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) Sarah Maquire Born 26 March 1957 London Died 2 November 2017 Occupation Poet, Translator Nationality British Sarah Maguire (26 March 1957 – 2 November 2017)[1] was a British poet, translator and broadcaster. Contents 1 Life 2 Awards 3 Works 3.1 Poetry Books 3.2 Edited 3.3 Translations 3.4 Anthologies 4 Reviews 5 References 6 External links Life[edit] Born in London, Sarah Maguire left school early to train as a gardener with the London Borough of Ealing (1974–77). Her horticultural career had a significant impact on her poetry: her third collection of poems The Florist's at Midnight (Jonathan Cape, 2001) brought together all her poems about plants and gardens, and she edited the anthology Flora Poetica: the Chatto Book of Botanical Verse (2001). She was also Poet in Residence at Chelsea Physic Garden, and edited A Green Thought in a Green Shade, essays by poets who have worked in a garden environment, published at the conclusion of this residency.[2] Maguire was the first writer to be sent to Palestine (1996) and Yemen (1998) by the British Council. As a result of these visits she developed a strong interest in Arabic literature; she translated the Palestinian poets Mahmoud Darwish and Ghassan Zaqtan and the Sudanese poet, Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi (2008). With Yama Yari, Maguire co-translated the Afghan poet Partaw Naderi (2008); their translation of A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear by the leading Afghan novelist, Atiq Rahimi (Chatto & Windus, 2006) was longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2007. She was the only living English-language poet with a book in print in Arabic - her collection of selected poems, Haleeb Muraq (Dar-Al Mada, 2003), was translated by the leading Iraqi poet Saadi Yousef. Maguire was the founder and director of the Poetry Translation Centre, which opened in 2004.[3] The Sarah Maguire Prize for Poetry in Translation was launched by the Poetry Translation Centre on 12 September 2019 to recognise and encourage quality translation of poetry into English.[4] Awards[edit] 2008: Cholmondeley Award 2001-03; Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London Works[edit] "Passages". The Guardian. London. 8 August 2005. Poetry Books[edit] Spilt Milk. Secker & Warburg. 1991. ISBN 978-0-9511023-3-6. The Invisible Mender. Cape Poetry. 1997. The Florist's at Midnight. Jonathan Cape. 2001. ISBN 978-0-224-06213-8. The Pomegranates of Kandahar. Chatto & Windus. 2007. ISBN 978-0-7011-8131-4. Edited[edit] A Green Thought in a Green Shade: Poetry in the Garden. Poetry Society. 2000. ISBN 978-1-900771-26-9. Flora Poetica: The Chatto Book of Botanical Verse. Chatto & Windus. 2001. ISBN 978-0-7011-6922-0. Translations[edit] Haleeb Muraq (Selected Poems). Saadi Yousef (trans.). Syria: Al-Mada House. 2003. Atiq Rahimi (2006). A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear. Yama Yari (trans.). Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-0-7011-7673-0. Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi (2008). Poems. Sabry Hafez (trans.). Enitharmon/Poetry Translation Centre. Partaw Naderi (2008). Poems. Yama Yari (trans.). Enitharmon/Poetry Translation Centre. Anthologies[edit] Susanne Ehrhardt, Paul May, Lucy Anne Watt, Robert Crawford, Sarah Maguire and Mark Ford (1989). New Chatto Poets: Number Two. Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-0-7011-3393-1. Reviews[edit] ...The opening poem, "The Grass Church at Dilston Grove", inspired by an artwork which sowed grass seeds all over a disused church in London's docklands, encapsulates the strengths of this book. The diligent description of the scent and appearance of the living grass and the abandoned building gives way to self-contemplation, then to beautifully deployed rhythms of ritual incantation, and finally to a moment poised perfectly between self and oblivion: laden with the inevitability of death, yet balanced perfectly by quiet, determined, resourceful life.[5] ...The ‘magical thread’ in The Bell Jar is suggestive in terms of the recurrent imagery of Sarah Maguire’s fourth collection, The Pomegranates of Kandahar (and Maguire begins with an epigraph from Plath’s ‘The Bee Meeting’ – a clue to the pervasive presence of the American poet throughout the book.) At the close of ‘Solstice’, Maguire writes ‘Because I have lost you, I must take up this thread’...This kind of stitching together has been seen before, most obviously perhaps in another poet who shares Maguire’s botanical and ecological preoccupations, Michael Longley.[6] References[edit] ^ Sarah Maguire obituary ^ "Sarah Maguire | Cross-Fertilisation: Poet in Residence at the Chelsea Physic Gardens", The Poetry Society. ^ "Translators | Sarah Maguire", Poetry Translation Centre. ^ Introducing the Sarah Maguire Prize,, 22 Sept 2019. ^ Robert Potts (21 July 2007). "All this time on my knees — The Pomegranates of Kandahar by Sarah Maguire review". The Guardian. London. ^ Fran Brearton. "The Pomegranates of Kandahar by Sarah Maguire review". Tower Poetry. Archived from the original on 8 November 2007. External links[edit] "Sarah Maguire"

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