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SMA - Sarah Maguire Archive

Reference code
Level of description
Sarah Maguire Archive
Quantity & Format
93 boxes (excluding boxes of ephemera and facsimiles) Mixed
Translation, Literary
Maguire, Sarah
Administrative/Biographical history
Sarah Maguire (1957-2017), poet, translator, and broadcaster.

Angela Sarah Maguire was born to an Irish mother on 26 March 1957. She was adopted as a baby by Edith and Eugene Maguire, a teacher and a head teacher, respectively.

Maguire was raised in Northolt, west London, where she attended St. Gregory's School Ealing, followed by Notting Hill & Ealing High School. She left before completing her A Levels to work as a Trainee Gardener with Ealing Council. Maguire passed her Division II Horticulture examinations in 1977. In 1978, Maguire married Rick Fisher, an American lighting designer, in Elkton, Maryland, USA. The marriage was dissolved in 1989.

Before returning to education, Maguire held various jobs, including teaching, clerking for a solicitor, and working at the drug agency, Release. She began a Diploma in Social Work at the Polytechnic of North London in 1980 before transferring to the University of East Anglia. Maguire graduated with a First in English and American Studies in 1987. Subsequently, she began, but did not complete, a PhD at the University of Cambridge with the proposed title of her thesis, 'Female Difficulties': Constructions of Femininity in the Prose of Frances Burney.

During her time as a student, Maguire attended Arvon writing courses run by Michael Longley and Paul Muldoon, exposing her to both creative writing workshops and literary contacts. Two early publishing successes for her poems came through the London Review of Books, which printed 'Spilt Milk' and 'May Day, 1986' in 1985 and 1986, respectively. Maguire also won small prizes through the Poetry Society's National Poetry Competition and the Arvon International Poetry Competition.

Sarah Maguire's poetry was included in New Chatto Poets: Number Two in 1989, alongside poets such as Robert Crawford and Mark Ford. Maguire resumed teaching in 1990, including creative writing classes, and briefly wrote poetry reviews for The Listener. Maguire's first collection, Spilt Milk, a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, was published by Secker & Warburg in 1991.

In 1992, Maguire undertook a writer's residency at Huntercombe Place Young Offenders' Institute, and she was a recipient of an Arts Council Writers' Bursary. Then in 1994, Sarah Maguire was chosen as one of the twenty Poetry Society's New Generation Poets, which also included Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, Kathleen Jamie, and Don Paterson. She began to host and appear regularly on radio broadcasts for the BBC, such as Kaleidoscope, Night Waves, Poetry Please!, and Meridian.

Maguire's reviews, most often of poetry, were published in Poetry Review, the Times Literary Supplement, the Independent on Sunday, and the Guardian. She was made a Creative Writing Fellow at the University of Leeds in 1996. Maguire's second collection, The Invisible Mender, was published in 1997 by Cape Poetry. This included a sequence of poems by the Russian poet, Marina Tsvetaeva, which Maguire translated with Catriona Kelly.

Sarah Maguire's later poetic career can largely be categorised by a bifurcation into two main focuses: gardens and translation.

With regards to gardens, Maguire began a residency at the Chelsea Physic Garden in 1998, as part of the Poetry Society's Poetry Places scheme. Her work culminated with an anthology in 2000, A Green Thought in a Green Shade: Poetry in the Garden. A more ambitious anthology followed in 2001, Flora Poetica: The Chatto Book of Botanical Verse, which was published to coincide with Maguire's third collection, The Florist's at Midnight. Whilst mostly consisting of new work, Florist's contains some horticultural poems from her previous two collections.

With regards to translation, Sarah Maguire became the first writer to be sent by the British Council to Palestine and Yemen, in 1996 and 1998, respectively. She worked with the Palestinian poet, Zakaria Mohammed, to produce English-language translations of his poems, some of which appeared in Banipal in 2000. In the same year, Maguire's essay, 'Poetry Makes Nothing Happen' was collected in Strong Words: Modern Poets on Modern Poetry, published by Bloodaxe.

Following her Royal Literary Fund Fellowship at the School of Oriental and African Studies, Maguire established the Poetry Translation Centre (PTC) in 2004 to introduce English readers to leading poets from around the world. The PTC has worked with poets such as Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi, Coral Bracho, and Mohan Rana. Translations are produced from literal or 'close' translations, either by collaborative workshops or by pairs of writers, consisting of an English-language poet and a translator. The Sarah Maguire Prize, a biennial award for poetry in English translation by a living poet from beyond Europe, was established by the PTC in 2019.

The Pomegranates of Kandahar, Sarah Maguire's fourth collection, was published by Chatto & Windus in 2007, and was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize for Best Collection. Her poem, 'Passages', was shortlisted for the Best Single Poem Forward Prize in 2005. Maguire won the Cholmondeley Award in 2008.

Maguire's selected poetry, Almost the Equinox, was published in 2015 by Chatto & Windus. Sarah Maguire died on 2 November 2017 from breast cancer.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
The Archive was gifted to UEA by the Sarah Maguire Literary Estate.
Scope and content
The archive of Sarah Maguire consists of eighteen series.

SMa/1 contains Maguire's poetry work, which consists of nine sub-series: Notebooks; New Chatto Poets & Spilt Milk; The Invisible Mender; The Florist's at Midnight; The Pomegranates of Kandahar; Almost the Equinox; Uncollected (or "unpublished"); Submissions and Applications; and Translated Poems.

SMa/2 contains Maguire's literary translations prior to the formation of the Poetry Translation Centre (PTC).

SMa/3 contains material relating to the PTC, which consists of eight sub-series: Translations; Correspondence; Third Party Works; Reviews and Press Cuttings; Events; Research; Business Papers; and Digital.

SMa/4 contains third party work.

SMa/5 contains Maguire's review writing.

SMa/6 contains Maguire's broadcasting work.

SMa/7 contains Maguire's diaries and notebooks.

SMa/8 contains Maguire's research.

SMa/9 contains material relating to Maguire's teaching work.

SMa/10 contains Maguire's early writing and material relating to her studies.

SMa/11 contains Maguire's correspondence.

SMa/12 contains reviews and press cuttings about Maguire and her work.

SMa/13 contains Maguire's personal papers.

SMa/14 contains events that Maguire participated in or attended.

SMa/15 contains material relating to Maguire's travel.

SMa/16 contains Maguire's photographs.

SMa/17 contains Maguire's digital and audio-visual materials. The digital files are still in the process of being preserved and will be available at a later date.

SMa/18 contained discards.

SMa/RG contains printed email correspondence, which was deposited by Ruth Goodwin in 2022.
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