Patrick McGuinness

Patrick McGuinness was born in Tunisia in 1968 of Belgian and Newcastle Irish parents, and brought up in Iran, Venezuela, France, Belgium and Romania. He now teaches French in Oxford, where he is Professor of French and Comparative Literature.

His first book of poems, The Canals of Mars, was published by Carcanet in 2004. His translation of Mallarmé’s For Anatole’s Tomb (2003) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. His pamphlet, 19th Century Blues, was a winner in the 2006 Book & Pamphlet Competition.

Patrick's novel, The Last Hundred Days, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2011.



Winner of the 2006/07 International Book & Pamphlet Competition


‘These beautifully wrought poems are meditations on time. Whatever the subject Patrick McGuinness captures that sense, as he so brilliantly puts it, that “Somewhere the Angel of Oblivion, radiant, leans his face into the wind/that turns our pages.”’ — Vicki Feaver


‘McGuinness translates from French … and perhaps that accounts for the different acoustic of his poetry: it’s quite unlike the work of any other British poet we know, haunting, delicate and exact in [its] observations.’ — Justin Quinn, Metre


'This pamphlet was a winner in the Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition, and it didn’t take me long to see why. 19th Century Blues is an absorbing meditation on time— beautifully written, subtle and complex without ever becoming obscure... These poems reach into the complexity of human love and loss and don’t flinch from saying what needs to be said, difficult as it may be.'— Rob A Mackenzie, Happenstance


Those were the days, though not for those who lived them.
Flaubert’s people were at the heart of things,
the eye of the nineteenth century’s storm.
Still it passed them by:


‘Fresh from slipping the Maréchale one Frédéric returns
to the woman who, though she does not know it,
lives only inside his head.’

Even to herself she is no more than half-there,
however totally described.
The language enfolds her. Later it embalms her.


The men are rudderless, bobbing like those balloons
that overflew the siege of Paris:
they roll on frictionless, leaving holes in the air.

Minnows caught in the slipstreams of their own stories,
they tremble for a moment upcurrent, then are gone
into the next instalment, the next word.

Titles by this author

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