There was a strange text conversation at lunch yesterday, as one of her friends texted my daughter asking “Was your mother born in Liverpool?”
“Then I’ve just seen a review of her book in the Scottish Review of Books.“
There was much excitement and I ran out and bought the Herald to check it out. It was true. Theresa Munoz – no mean poet in her own right, btw, her launch at StAnza is going to be a noteworthy event – had a column dealing with new poetry, and there we were, eight of us, Marion McCready, Graham Fulton, Gerry Cambridge, Peter Gilmour, Anne Connolly, Tom Bryan and Rody Gorman – and me. It was tremendously exciting – it’s lovely to get feedback, and to hear what people like and why they like it, and it’s always intriguing to see if what they think you did matches with what you think. I’m in very classy company, as you can see – Marion and Anne are poets I admire tremendously, and good friends. And it never hurts to read phrases like ‘her sensitive ear’ and ‘imaginative and ironic’. You can read the full review here.
This wasn’t all. The Stirling Observer included a review too, written by Sally Evans – a great poet and a good friend, who, in her capacity as Editor of Poetry Scotland, gave me my first start in poetry (I should think half the poets in Scotland could say the same). You can read it here. It’s a masterly summing up of everything that’s in it, though India (of India’s Alchemy) is not so much mythological as the real life India Flint whose blog (Not All Who Wander Are Lost) is on the sidebar. Her work, however, has mythological status in my head!
There’s one thing I really like about these reviews. When you put together a book, you put in the poems you think are good, and the poems other people tell you are good, and then you put in a couple just because you want to. @Visit Scotland@ is one of those and it really thrills me that both reviewers picked it up. I feel very passionately about the way we treat asylums seekers. I’m hoping the usual mother’s day protest outside Dungavel will happen this year, and I’d encourage everyone who can to attend it (I’ll confirm date and time when I know them.) So I’ll add the poem here
Dungavel makes a grim landlady,
corseted with steel, her flinty face
edged with fat curlers of barbed wire.
She keeps her eyes shut when we come,
plants police like knuckles at her hips,
more of them, this time, than us.
You asked so little when you came –
an ordinary life, work, shopping, school,
a joke with the neighbours, uninterrupted sleep –
Scotland could not manage even that.
I bring you shortbread, and caramel wafers
wrapped in tartan cellophane.
There is even more good news, but this post is long enough. I’ll tell you the rest later. But for now, I’ll just say I feel like all my Christmases came at once