Monday, August 24, 2015



"Brimming with images of body, blood and flowers, this sequence politicises and analyses the purpose and process of birth"
Nice to get a review of Our Real Red Selves in the Scottish Review of Books which you can read here

It was a pleasure to read again with Harry Giles and Jennifer Williams as we read in Edinburgh from Our Real Red Selves at the Edinburgh Fringe Book Festival run by the amazing gem of a bookshop Word Power Books. There are free book events going on there every day till the end of the month, well worth a visit.


I was invited by the editor of Berfrois to contribute a poem to an e-book collection of poems called Poets for Corbyn. I submitted a poem that was originally published in my pamphlet collection, Vintage Sea, called The Red Road. I wrote it in 2010 after reading about a triple family suicide - three Russian asylum seekers who leapt to their death from one of the infamous multi-storey flats on the Red Road in Glasgow, their application to remain in the UK had been refused. 
You can read Poets for Corbyn here - it's free and includes poems by great poets such as Pascale Petit and Michael Schmidt.



When I was at Word Power Books I was delighted to pick up a signed copy of Kathleen Jamie's selection of essays Sightlines which I've been meaning to get for years. The writing is even more beautiful than I had imagined, delighted with it. This morning, inspired by Jamie's writing, I wrote the first draft of a reflective essay on visiting Culloden last month. It's the first such essay I've written and so very much enjoyed writing it. I feel it's possibly a new doorway opening to me. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Unsurprisingly I've done little in the way of writing over the school holidays, and there's still two more weeks of it to go! We visited Culloden on our wee holiday to Inverness and I have some images and thoughts for a poem but it's impossible to get into the 'writing zone' with the kids about!
I had an incredibly vivid dream with Ted Hughes in it last week and so have been reading his early work, essays in Winter Pollen and a biography of him by Elaine Feinstein that I've had for years.
Continually feel the need for something bigger to work on though no idea what. All I want to read poetry-wise at the minute is Ted Hughes and D. H. Lawrence!

I'm excited to be reading at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival next month with Harry Giles and J.L. Williams from Our Real Red Selves. We'll be reading at Word Power Books, Nicolson Street, Edinburgh on 22nd Aug at 1pm. It's a free event!

Tariq Latif is launching his latest pamphlet, Smithereens, from Arc Publications at Dunoon Bookpoint on the 12th Aug at 7pm. I'm privileged to be reading one of his poems written in a female voice.


Something that has been a pleasant surprise is how far my Wild Poppies poem has travelled - it's certainly traveled far further than any other poem I've written. It pops up in gardening blogs, wedding pages, eco travelling websites, paired many times with poppy pics on instagram, it's even been put to music and reshaped into a sculpture poem! Every now and again I do an online search to see where it will make an appearance next! It's made me think about why it's so popular, it certainly helps that it was published in such a high profile mag - I think it comes up high on results for anyone doing a search on poppy poems. It's been described as an ode to poppies or a celebration of poppies. The poem itself was whittled down from three pages of notes from intense concentration on the poppies. It was originally three times the length and a three part poem and eventually pruned down to what is left. I think flower poems are generally popular anyway as they cover so many bases emotionally and symbolically. But it's such a pleasure to see how my poem has made its own way into the world!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Well that's the kids now on holiday for a whopping seven weeks!
I managed to write my pier poem sequence which was a relief and now I intend to have a mythological summer reading mainly Robert Graves and a few other folktale / anthropological books.  I've recently been blown away by Matthew Dickman's poems and can't wait to get one of his collections. Here he is reading with his twin brother Michael, who is also an acclaimed poet.




Thursday, June 11, 2015


Three new poems from Our Real Red Selves online: -

Iceland Poppies and Dinner are up at The Ofi Press (Mexico)
The Un-Mother can be read at Ink, Sweat & Tears!


I'm working on a long poem about Dunoon's Victorian timber pier. I've no idea where I'm going with it and haven't worked out the heart of it yet. All I know is that it's the only thing I've been drawn to writing about over the last few months. I'm building up ever expanding notes and have a few sections that seem complete in themselves but not knowing the overarching theme is annoying!

Monday, June 01, 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Some post-first full-length collection thoughts  -

It's now been a year since Tree Language was published though it feels much longer - I suppose the whole, long process of putting the manuscript together and drafting drafting drafting makes it feel so.
The last eighteen months has been, at times, a bit of a whirlwind. I'm certainly much more used to doing readings now and very happy to do them.

I was very fortunate in having the mentoring with Vicki Feaver which forced me to keep writing after Tree Language when I almost certainly would have had post-collection block. So this last year has been extremely productive for me and I'm now starting to think about putting together a second collection. I'm writing much more themed sequences now rather than jumping from poem to poem which gives me room to really explore a subject such as the birth series and the Mary Stuart poems.
And now I feel on the verge or something new and the need to order the masses of poems into a collection home to be able to move on - whether or not I submit them as a collection anytime soon I've no idea. But it feels good putting them together, I feel and hope it's a much stronger collection of poems than Tree Language and I have a working title which I'm excited by!



Also I have copies of Our Real Red Selves which will be launched in Glasgow next week!

 

Friday, May 15, 2015

*New readings coming up in Dunoon and Glasgow* - 

I'll be reading and discussing books with Vagabond Voices writers Chris Dolan, Gerry Loose and Allan Cameron at Bookpoint, Dunoon on Wednesday 20th May at 6 pm. I'll be reading from Our Real Red Selves and copies of Tree Language will be available also.

The actual launch of Our Real Red Selves will be in the CCA in Glasgow on June 4th at 7 pm which I'll be reading at alongside JL Williams and Harry Giles.

I've not been writing much lately - stuck in a bit of a rut after my Mary poems and endless family illnesses. However I have been reading lots - the mammoth Collected Ted Hughes which has been a wonderful and, well, huge read! A complete mythological  world to get lost and roam about in! Also been reading Jim Murdoch's new book of poems, Reader Please Supply Meaning, always a pleasure to read Jim's questioning and thought-provoking poems. Picked up a copy at Aye Write of Glasgow Makar Jim Carruth's verse novella, Killochries, which is beautifully written. And lastly couldn't resist getting Sujata Bhatt's latest collection, Poppies in Translation.

Very excited to be going through to Edinburgh next week to hear Pascale Petit read from Fauverie! What a privilege it was to hear Pascale read some of her Fauverie poems to a small group of us a few years ago now at Chateau Ventenac in the South of France. It seems quite a lifetime ago! I'm delighted that she's reading in Edinburgh with Scottish poet Niall Campbell and that I'll get a chance to hear her again. The event is run by The Scottish Poetry Library and will be on 21st May, 6.30pm at The Saltire Society, 9 Fountain Close, High Street, Edinburgh.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Poems, Podcast and Video...



I can't believe it's this Saturday myself, JL Williams and Harry Giles will be reading in the beautiful Mitchell Library as part of the Aye Write festival. We'll be reading from Our Real Red Selves anthology from Vagabond Voices on  Sat 18th 6-7 pm. Do book a ticket from the Aye Write website if you fancy it!

There are video interviews of JL Williams and Harry Giles on the Vagabond Voices website. There's one of me too - a short, wind-blown interview of me reading poems from the anthology in the Castle Gardens, Dunoon!



Also the interview-podcast I did last year with the Scottish Poetry Library is now available to listen to here.

And I have three poems from Our Real Red Selves featured on Josephine Corcoran's wonderful poetry blog here!

Sunday, March 22, 2015





I have a three-part Lot's Wife poem in the new New York based online literary magazine TRANSMISSION which you can read here. There is a lot of really interesting work in the magazine, this edition has a particular focus on Detroit-based writers with a few non-Detroit 'core creatives' of which I'm very happy to be one!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Easily the most entertaining poet's letters I've read so far. I thoroughly recommend the selected letters of W.S. Graham.

Probably shouldn't be a surprise that the letters are so good since Graham wrote excellent letter poems! The letters are in a sense poem drafts - he says in one that he writes the letters as much for himself as for the recipients. Wonderful early and a few late letters to Edwin Morgan discussing his writing, wonderful exuberant letters to Elizabeth Smart, Michael Schmidt gets a telling-off letter for a review he wrote about him, letters about writing, begging for money, his poverty-struggles, all packed with personality and most of all humour. Letters I'll go back to.


I'm excited to have just finished a seven-poem sequence on Mary Queen of Scots! I was keen to write about her after I came across and read some of her letters on-line. What surprised me was how human she seemed as opposed to the distant stock character queen from history. I read the well-written and in-depth biography of her by Antonia Fraser. There are many surviving letters written by Mary and many recorded first-hand accounts that it is possible to build up a reasonably accurate picture of her as a person. Plus there are so many mythological aspects to her story which is a gift to write about.

Glasgow's Aye Write Book Festival programme in now available on-line here. I'll be reading on Saturday 18th April 6-7pm with J.L. Williams and Harry Giles.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Now that the final manuscript of The Birth Garden is emailed off I'm starting to get excited about the new book!

In December I received an email from Colin Waters whom I had met through his work at the Scottish Poetry Library and subsequently through the beautifully produced anthology of Scottish poetry he edited - Be The First To Like This. He had mentioned previously that in his new role as poetry editor for Glasgow publisher Vagabond Voices he was planning to put together a series of three-poet anthology collections and asked me if I happened to have a themed selection of poems and would be willing to be the third poet in the first produced anthology.
I was delighted to be asked and had just written a series of birth poems - a theme which kept creeping into my garden poems over the last year and when I put all the like-minded poems together I knew I had a mini-collection to contribute.

The anthology is going to be called Our Real, Red Selves which is taken from a line in my Poem for a Garden. My birth garden collection will be flanked by two collections of war poems - I won't mention the poets until it's been made public!  

Other good news - Colin has managed to get us a reading slot at Glasgow's Aye Write Book Festival in April - to publicise both the Be The First To Like This Anthology and the upcoming Our Real, Red Selves which will probably be published around the end of May.

Because I didn't expect to book-publish the poems so soon I've not got managed to magazine-publish many of them - it's been especially painful to withdraw accepted poems because the book comes out before the mag would publish them!

So here's a Wordle of The Birth Garden instead!


Monday, January 19, 2015

Thankful for an honest and thoughtful blog review of Tree Language here.

I'm excited to say that a series of my new poems will be published later this year in a collection featuring two other poets also. I'll write more details when it's all been finalised.
My section is going to be called The Birth Garden and will be prefaced with this quote from Euripides' Medea -
"I would rather stand three times in a battle line than give birth to one child".

As the title suggests, the poems are very much intermingled birth and garden poems. I was really excited at how well the birth and garden poems worked together when I was putting together the selection for the book. I thought I would move away from the bloodiness of Tree Language but I'm afraid these poems are rather bloody too!
I was really taken with the concept of Twilight Sleep - an induced amnesia so that the body remembers the pain of childbirth but the mind doesn't - and also how birthing women were ill-treated during the process.

Not quite sure what to move onto next with my poems. I've recently got very much into D. H. Lawrence's poems - I have no idea why they are not so widely applauded, some of them seem incredible to me. I wrote an odd tulip poem very much under Lawrence's influence and I liked the different tone to it so maybe that's an area I can push further.

Have dozens of submissions out - hope some of them take. My longish three part Lot's Wife poem will be in the New York based online journal Transmissions in March.  

Monday, December 08, 2014

I've been working on a series of childbirth poems based on the experiences of women in the early twentieth century and earlier of medical intervention in childbirth. I happened to be reading up on the work of filmmaker Irene Lusztig when I came across the very interesting and rather gruesome history of medical intervention in childbirth. It's a debate that still rages today and people have very strong feelings about.

The poems took me by surprise. I found references to childbirth creeping into my poems rather consistently over this last year and yet didn't feel I could explore it as a subject fully in an original way.
Suddenly I found a new way to write about childbirth through the personae of women who experienced rather dreadful medical interventions. So I've been a bit obsessed about reading up on terrible childbirth experiences! So far I have eight poems in the sequence and I feel there are a few more to come at least.

I've also been utterly delighted by Jay Parini's book on Roethke. A fantastic analysis of Roethke's poems, influences and the theory behind them. It's been a lot to take in and a book I'll be reading over several times. I feel it's answered a lot of my questions about Roethke and Plath's writing - about the role of mysticism, mythology and the transcendentalism of the American Romantic tradition.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014




I love to see photos of Tree Language
travelling around the world in different places
and in people's homes - makes me feel like little
pieces of me exist in all of these places.






Eyewear publishing is an independent, small, London-based press committed to publishing strong poetry in beautifully produced hardback collections. I'm incredibly lucky and grateful to be published by Eyewear. Like all independent poetry publishers, Eyewear is struggling financially. I think it would be sad to see Eyewear go under, not just because my book is with them, but because of their commitment to publishing good poetry regardless of fashion, their interest in publishing international poetry, and their desire to create each book as a pleasing and beautiful object in itself. Also I think their Melita Hume Prize is unusual in that it's free to enter -  anyone can submit a full collection for it.

Please have a look on their website - here - the titles from 2012-13 are on sale for £7 which is a fantastic price for the gorgeous hardbacks. There are also a selection of beautifully produced pamphlets at £5 and Eyewear's first fiction book - Sumia Sakkar's The Boy from Aleppo which was recently adapted for and broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014



Very happy that my six-part sequence Poem for a Garden featured in B O D Y's UK and Ireland issue alongside poets I really admire such as Luke Kennard, Doireann Ni Ghriofa and Jon Stone amongst others.

It's the first post-Tree Language poem I've had published so it's exciting to have one of my new babies out there!

I was amused to come across my poem recordings for Poetry (which are now available on the Poetry Foundation website as part of their Poem of the Day series) as part of a beats and poets set where I'm reading to some cool beats at around the 12 and 22 minute marks! :)

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

It's taken a while but it's beginning to dawn on me that Ruby starting school wasn't just another milestone in watching my babies grow up in the way it was when Sorley started school but is actually the end / culmination of a period in my life that began when Sorley was born almost eight years ago.

The amount of daily freedom I have now is daunting and surprisingly unconducive  to writing - an overwhelming pressure to be super-productive which freezes me. However thanks to the mentoring with Vicki Feaver, this year overall has been productive for me - I'm about ten poems off another full-length collection, and I'm happy with the poems I've written - they are so much more opened up / expanded than my previous poems. Of course it'll take about another three years odd to place them in mags etc! I'm feeling the need to work on something bigger - something I can come to and plough at daily as opposed to the arbitrariness of poems, I just have no idea what that could be.  

I really enjoyed reading alongside my fellow New Writers from the SBT at the Portobello Book Festival, especially enjoyable to read with excellent prose writers like Catherine Simpson who has just signed a book deal for her latest novel Truestory which you can read an extract from here.

Tree Language was reviewed very favourably in Lunar Poetry -
"McCready’s work is characterised by strikingly original language"
"McCready is ready to take risks with some of her word-coinings, too, with a frequent and creative use of hyphenated compounds, a trick which hasn’t been fashionable in British poetry for quite a while. McCready has the good sense to know that it does not matter whether this is ‘the done thing’ if you can make it work: So here we have ‘sun-carved’, ‘frost-flower’, ‘crackle-comb' and even 'fish-O'clock', to name but a few."
"any poet who describes the Firth as ‘punk-black’ has got to be doing
something right"
I'm starting to get used to being referred to as 'McCready'! And I had no idea hyphenated compounds weren't fashionable :) just a writing tic of mine!

My Dunoon poem was featured on the StAnza Blog as part of the Poetry Map of Scotland project and I got a wee mention in The Scotsman review of Be The First To Like This: Anthology of New Scottish Poetry. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

I've been on a roll of garden poems for a while now, in fact I think my garden has taken on a bizarre life and mythology of its own which I'm happy to tap into for as long as the poems last!

I've been knee-deep in reading some wonderful books recently. I had a buying splurge and bought a bunch of books I've been dying to read for ages:
Airmail: The letters of Robert Bly and Tomas Transtromer, Fauverie and Heart of a Deer by Pascale Petit, and the excitingly amazing African Folktales and Sculpture by Paul Radin.

Any Plath fan will recognise the Radin book which according to Ted Hughes had a huge influence on the poems Plath wrote at Yaddo. I've been wanting to pick up a copy of the book for ages and managed to get a second-hand ex-library copy. The book is huge and full of wonderful stories and large photos. It was exciting to come across The City Where Men Are Mended - a Hausa folktale, and see how Plath weaved the African mythology into her own personal mythology in her Poem for a Birthday.

I read Airmail very quickly, it wasn't quite as good as I was hoping it would be. Very much a friendship played out in letters and particularly good if you're interested in translation but otherwise I didn't find it to be particularly revelatory about either Bly or Transtromer's poetry.

It's so good to have Pascale Petit's new collection (with an absolutely gorgeous cover) and catch up with one of her older collections. I'm happily reading them slowly and continually and probably will be for the next while. Still also reading Roethke and Bhatt - which have become my staple reading and I don't see that changing for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It may have been a no vote but I think 'not yet' is more accurate...

Anyway, very pleased to be in the Sunday Herald magazine at the week-end for the Be The First To Like This - anthology of new Scottish poetry. Can't wait to get my copy of the book - such an eclectic range of poets in it and of course many more fine Scottish poets not in it - definitely think Scotland is going through a bit of a literary renaissance!
If you want to keep up with the news about the anthology follow here on twitter and check out here for the facebook page.



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hello blogger, my old friend. I've come to talk with you again...

It's been rather busy since I've updated. The most miraculous news is that after all these years of writing alone on my little peninsula I've finally come across some other local poets and we have formed a monthly poetry work-shopping group. Wonderful to get a chance to meet up and talk poetry with real live people - there are four of us and bizarrely we all live within two streets of each other!

Dunoon hosted it's first Mini Book Festival which I read at with Tariq Latif - it was a good opportunity to try out some of the new poems. Hoping it'll be the first of an annual local book festival which would be wonderful. Tariq and I also did a poetry reading in the summer in the local bookshop which seemed to go down well - it's so good having someone else locally to read with!

I put together a book list for the Scottish Book Trust of some of my favourite contemporary female poets which you can read here.

I was pleasantly surprised to come across a lovely five star review of Tree Language on Amazon. It feels wonderfully good to get the feedback and simply that my book has found a happy home in some complete stranger's life!

Very pleased to have some poems in Be The First To Like This, an anthology of new Scottish poetry with a foreword written by Liz Lochhead. Colin Waters from the Scottish poetry library (editor of the anthology) has put together a great webpage for it here. It's being launched next week in Glasgow and Edinburgh and tomorrow we're all getting our picture taken at the Scottish Poetry Library for the Saturday Herald and Sunday Herald Magazine, so that's quite exciting!

Next month I'll be reading and chatting at the Portobello Book Festival in Edinburgh as part of a Scottish Book Trust event along with two other recipients of the SBT New Writer's Award. Check out the dates of the book festival here and if you're around please come along - I've heard there will be wine!

Finally, good old Highland Mary's voting yes and so am I. Only four more days until the referendum and it's all up for grabs!!