Martin Dyar

Maiden Names

ISBN: 9781851321230

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“funny, astute, marvellously judged, and a genuinely new voice“ – Roy Foster


“This is a poet writing close to the bones and stones of a real Ireland. In Maiden Names a landscape, and its animals, people, ghosts, are pinned down, probed and revealed in sharp, often witty language. A whole authentic society whose citizens include souterrains and badgers, nurses and handball-players, is held steady in an unpredictable but convincing vision, where the ‘pike swims under the otter and the otter dives into the moon’ and a psychic refuses to tell his bodyguard about his visions at Knock.”

– Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin


“Martin Dyar’s narratives about the strangeness of the everyday have a vividness and colour which are a thrilling new development in Irish poetry. Their eloquence and life clear the boards of anything tired or familiar, making room for the language of poetry to move into new areas to cope with the central moments of people’s lives. This is a book of real importance and originality.”

– Bernard O’Donoghue


‘poignant and incisive’ – Eimear McBride


Maiden Names, the debut collection from Martin Dyar, introduces a new poetic voice, already widely heralded as a major emerging talent in Irish literature. Maiden Names won the Patrick Kavanagh Award for Poetry. It was chosen as a book of the year in both The Guardian and The Irish Timesand was shortlisted for the Pigott Poetry Prize and the Shine/Strong Award. Martin Dyar was awarded a residence on the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa in 2013.

Martin Dyar’s exploration of his West of Ireland roots and his thrilling adeptness with monologue forms draw the reader into a world of vision distinguished by a fusing of rich lyricism with lived experience, humour, and humane feeling. Against a backdrop of Irish landscapes and wildlife, his poetic characters express the strange but fundamental truths of their lives, while also, ultimately, speaking for the truth of poetry itself.


Martin Dyar was born in 1976 and grew up in Swinford, County Mayo. He studied at NUI Galway, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and Trinity College Dublin. His work has received a number of honours, including the Patrick Kavanagh Award in 2009, the Strokestown International Poetry Award in 2001, and two Arts Council Bursary Awards in Literature. Maiden Names, his first collection of poems, was a book of the year selection in The Guardian and The Irish Times, and was shortlisted for both the Pigott Poetry Prize and the Shine/Strong Award. He has also written a play, Tom Loves a Lord, about the Irish poet Thomas Moore. He is a fellow of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, a former writer in residence at the Washington Ireland Programme, the University of Limerick and the John Broderick Writer in Residence. He lectures in Trinity College, Dublin.