‘Briny’, by Mandy Haggith

Briny, Mandy Haggith’s sixth poetry collection, is a love song to the sea. The marine throughline is present from the arresting cover image – periwinkle shells in dark sand under a rush of water – and carries through in each poem across the eighty-six pages. Whether appearing as the background chorus (‘The Loch’), a silent […]

‘Woof! Woof! Woof!’, by Rob A. Mackenzie

Rob A. Mackenzie’s fourth collection of poetry is something of a diversion from his previous works in terms of content, tone and form. The Opposite of Cabbage (2009), The Good News (2013) and The Book of Revelation (2020), all published by SALT, were explorations of life with tongue well wedged cheekward, an eyebrow raised at […]

‘cocoon’, by Russell Jones

For those not already familiar with the work of Russell Jones, his poetry rarely resists the call of outside-the-box creativity, and cocoon is another notable example of his passion for pushing poetic boundaries. The multimedia nature of the collection – which features five comic poems illustrated by Sara Julia Campbell, Caroline Grebbell, Aimee Lockwood, Edward […]

‘Bodysnatcher’, by Carol Margaret Davison

Set against a backdrop of the devastating poverty and casual violence of early nineteenth-century Edinburgh, Bodysnatcher is woven around the murderous spree of Messrs William Burke and William Hare. Carol Margaret Davison’s debut novel is a tightly constructed and intelligent work that neither shies away from nor glories in the wanton violence so commonly associated […]

‘Writing Landscape’, by Linda Cracknell

In this small volume of essays, Linda Cracknell explores both physical landscapes – crossing through Scotland, France and the south coast of England – and the inner landscapes she inhabits when writing works of fiction and non-fiction. Wide-ranging in its study of ‘the dialogue between landscape and creative processes’, Writing Landscape is a revealing and meditative […]

‘Mother, Nature’ by Aoife Lyall

In this collection, her debut for Bloodaxe, Aoife Lyall presents a loosely connected sequence of poems that discuss motherhood as it has been for the poet. From pregnancy, pre-natal life, miscarriage, post-partum life and the adventure that is life with a baby, this collection is equal parts uplifting, devastating, illuminative, hopeful and triumphant.  From the […]

‘another word for home is blackbird’, by Catherine Wilson Garry

Central to this astounding debut pamphlet from Catherine Wilson Garry is grief, revealed at once in the opening line of the collection: ‘Grief does not have a landscape’. Poets often dip their pens in the ink of grief, yet it takes a delicate hand to turn this sempiternal emotion into new and insightful poetry. The […]

‘Collected Verse 2001–2021’, by Alan MacGillivray

There is something often daunting when presented with a Collected Verse publication. On the one hand, it can seem like a Sisyphean task to face down a poetic output of two decades in a single tome. On the other hand, having in one place the strata of a poetic life across so many different publications […]

‘play my game’, by Alec Finlay

This collection is unlike anything I’ve read in a long time. While it is presented as a series of twenty-two poems, the text of each poem is less grouped stanzas as it is borderline aphorism, or haiku, or dharma pop.  Each poem is composed of short, texturally dense snippets, clippings of thought and imagery. Unlike […]

‘Of Stone and Sky’, by Merryn Glover

We are gathered here today on the shore of Loch Hope in the presence of God, in the worshipful company of birds and beasts, on the hallowed ground of Earth, to give thanks for the life of Colvin Munro. We do not know that he is dead, and without certainty and without a body we […]

‘Unraveled Knots’, by Robert Leach

What is most evident in the poems from Leach’s retrospective collection is his talent for expressing the elevated in the simple. In ‘Young Osprey in the Nest’, Leach writes of the bird’s desire to free itself from the nest, seeking the endlessness of the sky:  A claw,Strong before its time,Impatient to be pastThis part of […]

‘The Testes of Lenin’, by Graham Fulton

Fulton’s collection is a kaleidoscope of snapshots, small interactions, and, ultimately, people and the many and various ways that poetry arises from moments elevated by language or stripped back to the everyday.  To put this point into context with examples that best encapsulate it, I’ll quote a section from one poem with the whole text […]

‘Lilies on the Deathbed of Étaín’, by Oisín Breen

This collection from Oisín Breen melds together several thematic threads in a series of Beat Generation-esque prose poems that propel the lyrical form of the language to its maximal point.  Love pokes its head over the parapet many times across the collection, most notably in the title poem, yet is neither simple nor typical but […]

‘Early and Late’, by Alan MacGillivray

The poems in this collection are paired into two sections: one from the beginning of MacGillivray’s writing career and the other from more recent times. Presented together they show the development of the poet’s style, but also the threads and linkages that extend between the two time periods.  The Early Verses come from 1957–1972, and […]

‘WTF is normal anyway?’, by Jo Gilbert

Offering snapshots of her life and the world in her native north-east tongue, Jo Gilbert’s debut poetry collection is, among many things, a testimony to the range and versatility of Doric, a language that Gilbert has championed over the years as a spoken word artist. WTF is normal anyway? races with energy and vigour, and […]

‘Iggleheim’s Ark’, by David Kinloch

A chapbook is the poetic equivalent of a selection box – a small taster of various styles and forms that may convince a reader to seek out the writer’s full-length collections in future or explore their broader poetic output. Iggleheim’s Ark will surely be one such chapbook to drive new readers to David Kinloch’s other […]

‘The Wreck of the Fathership’, by W. N. Herbert

The Wreck of the Fathership by Dundonian Makar W. N. Herbert comes across much like an iceberg: for all that it offers on the surface, much of it is driven by what lingers beneath – the shadow cast on Herbert by the death of his father soon after he began composing the collection, the whole […]

‘modren makars: yin’, by Irene Howat, Ann MacKinnon, and Finola Scott

First of all, I am heartened by this collection’s subtitle, yin, and genuinely hope that second, third and future collections arrive soon. This first iteration of modren makars brings together the work of contemporary poets Irene Howat, Ann MacKinnon and Finola Scott into one volume, with a chapbook-length space devoted to each. Though Howat, MacKinnon […]

‘An Eye For An Eye For An Eye’, by Ellen Renton

An Eye For An Eye For An Eye is the debut pamphlet from Ellen Renton and in just a few short pages, it reveals an excellent poet with a profound breadth and depth of lyrical touch. Many of the poems are short, such as the opening poem ‘How Far Can You See?’, which covers only […]

‘The Sleep Road’, by Stewart Sanderson

Stewart Sanderson’s debut collection of poems takes place in a land that is both real and imagined, both living and unexisting. It is a concrete place, but the things that occur in these gentle and heartening lyrics are ethereal and almost impossible to grasp.  It would be wrong to say that Sanderson is not writing […]

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