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Doireann Ní Ghríofa wins the James Tait Black Prize

Writing.ie | Magazine | News for Writers

By Writing.ie

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Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s memoir of a woman obsessed with an 18th-century noblewoman has won the James Tait Black Prize for Biography.

A Ghost in the Throat, combines memoir with a mesmerising exploration of the life of 18th-century poet, Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill. An award-winning poet and essayist, Doireann Ní Ghríofa has published several acclaimed works of poetry in both Irish and English, including Clasp, Oighear, and Lies. The winning biography, A Ghost in the Throat, published by Tramp Press, is the writer’s prose debut.

Biography Judge Dr Simon Cooke, of the University of Edinburgh, called A Ghost in the Throat “a work of great and searching depth and generosity, as involving as it is luminous, that weaves poetry, memoir, biography and translation into a powerful celebration of female texts and a profound exploration of the way the voice and life of one poet echoes in the life and voice of another.”

Doireann Ní Ghríofa said: “It’s such a deep joy to be awarded this prize. In truth, I can barely believe it. From the very beginning, as I set out in pursuit of a ghost, this book often surprised me, and it continues to do so! I’m very grateful to the judges, to my agent Alba Ziegler-Bailey, and to the wonderful Tramp Press.”

About A Ghost in the Throat:

A true original, this stunning prose debut by Doireann Ní Ghríofa weaves two stories together. In the 1700s, an Irish noblewoman, on discovering her husband has been murdered, drinks handfuls of his blood and composes an extraordinary poem that reaches across the centuries to another poet. In the present day, a young mother narrowly avoids tragedy in her own life. On encountering the poem, she becomes obsessed with finding out the rest of the story.

Doireann Ní Ghríofa has sculpted a fluid hybrid of essay and autofiction to explore the ways in which a life can be changed in response to the discovery of another’s — in this case, Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill’s Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire, famously referred to by Peter Levi as ‘the greatest poem written in either Ireland or Britain during the eighteenth century.’

A devastating and timeless tale about finding your voice by freeing another’s.

Order your copy online here.

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