Saturday, April 19, 2014


Paris was an absolute dream! We flew there, childless on the Sunday and enjoyed the sheer beauty of Paris in springtime, the sights, food, wine etc etc for a few days before the poetry reading on the Tuesday night.

It was so nice to finally meet Pansy, the organiser, and her husband. The reading was in 'the cave' in an Irish pub (!!) in the centre of Paris! The atmosphere was friendly and very welcoming. I started off the reading with a ten minute set followed by dancer Romual Kabore who performed an amazing dance without music, and then the lovely Irish poet, Afric McGlinchy, read her gorgeous poems.

During a short break I met and had a nice chat with a Scottish woman who had been living in Paris for 23 years! Afric started off the second half of the evening reading more poems from her collection - The Lucky Star of Hidden Things -, Romual danced for us again and then I finished by reading another set. We all went upstairs for drinks and chat afterwards. A really lovely night and a nice review of it online here.


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Currently overwhelmed in a good way by Sujata Bhatt and Jane Kenyon's poems. Both been around for some time but both new to me. I picked up Sujata Bhatt's Collected poems at StAnza and what an exciting range and life of work it is. So much sensous detail, it just explodes with life. And I absolutely love the cover painting for the book - I mean, isn't it just gorgeous?!

Vicki Feaver intoduced me to Jane Kenyon and I've been reading and re-reading what poems I can find of hers online and her quiet and exacting voice really resonates. I really loved coming across this gorgeous programme with readings and interviews with Jane Kenyon and her husband Donald Hall.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

St Andrews - Paris - Glasgow - London

Busy times on the poetry front! Had a wonderful time at StAnza which was a couple of weeks ago now. My worries of bursting into bouts of coughing during my reading thankfully never materialised (was recovering from a nasty sinus infection). How strange it was to be one of the 'proper' readers at the festival this year! I read as part of The Scottish Book Trust award writers showcase alongside Tracey S Rosenberg, Kathrine Sowerby and Andrew Sclater. Our reading was in the wonderful St. Andrews Town Hall in front of a very generous and warm audience, I signed a fair few copies of Vintage Sea afterwards and people were very kind with their comments - overall a very encouraging experience!

I went to a number of events, my favourites being Douglas Dunn in Conversation , the masterclass with Paul Muldoon and readings of modern Chinese poets in translation by Brian Holton and Bill Herbert. Chatted to a great many poets in between events too. Favourite book buy of the weekend was Sujata Bhatt's Collected - bought one of her collections when I arrived there on the Friday and loved it so much that I bought her Collected on the Sunday before I left! Sadly I couldn't make it up to St Andrews in time to hear her or Brian Turner read though I saw her wondering around the Byre theatre many times but failed to pluck up the courage to talk to her or ask her to sign her book for me!

You can read a pre-StAnza interview with myself and Andrew Sclater by the online lit mag The Skinny on our experience of winning the new writers award - here

So! Two weeks till Paris!! Last year I was invited by Pansy Maurer-Alvarez to come to Paris and do a reading as part of a monthly reading series she runs called Poets Live. Of course I agreed (Paris in the spring!!!) and I'm excited to be reading with the Irish poet Afric McGlinchey and instead of a usual third reader we are to be treated to a performance by a dancer!


My book is coming out in May - I've arranged to have the Glasgow launch on Friday 16th at Tell It Slant - Glasgow's new poetry bookshop - and I'm excited to have Glasgow-based poets Katherine Sowerby, Samuel Tongue and Calder Wood Press fellow poet Ross Wilson reading at it also.

The London launch is the following week at the London Review Bookshop on the 21st with Mandy Kahn, Rufo Quintavalle and SJ Fowler. Exciting times coming up!  

Friday, February 14, 2014


Had a really good night at the Scottish Book Trust showcase event in Edinburgh. It was great to get a chance to hear the other readers especially the fiction writers who all read so grippingly well that I can't wait for all of their stories, books to come out. I also got to meet and chat with some of this year's New Writers Awardees which was really nice. The Scottish Book Trust produced a great little book with a selection of writing from all of us plus a page of info we wrote ourselves about our writing. You can download the online version of the book for free here.

Here's what I wrote about  about Tree Language


The poems in my first full-length collection, which I’ve been working on over this last year, fall into four distinct sections which I only became aware of when putting the collection together; though the same, generally dark, themes are carried through each section.
My main interest in writing these poems was to explore themes of love, death, sometimes violence and how they are played out, reflected in and contrasted against the backdrop of nature and the landscape the poems are set in. I also have a tendency towards the surreal.
Many of my poems begin from observations in the natural world: the shape of a tree and its shadow, the sun on the back of the Clyde, the flowering orchid on my windowsill. I find that through examining the physical details of nature I’m able to gain a level of distance and objectivity which allows me to explore broader human and personal themes.
The focus on nature also enables me to sidestep the confines of narrative logic, tap into the unconscious dream – like processes but at the same time stay rooted in the physical, tangible world.     
 The next event is StAnza. I'm reading on the Saturday as part of the Scottish Booktrust Showcase. There are four of us reading so we get fifteen minutes each. I'm only able to get to St Andrews by the Friday night so I'm gutted to be missing Sujata Bhatt and Brian Turner reading. However I have booked tickets and will finally get the chance to hear John Burnside which I'm incredibly excited about and also the masterclass with Paul Muldoon. 

My next mentoring meeting with Vicki Feaver is the week after Stanza, I have four poems ready for it so far which I'm pleased about. Really working hard to expand my writing and I feel hopeful that these poems are doing just that.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Finally it has reached Dunoon!! -




I was asked to contribute a recent book reading list for the Poetry Foundation blog which you can read here. Mostly still mulling over the same books with the inclusion of W.S. Merwin's The Shadow of Sirius and Vicki Feaver's poetry. For those not on facebook or twitter you can hear a wonderful series of radio essays here by five different poets doing their own take of Rilke's Letter to a Young Poet. I so enjoyed them, especially (of course) Vicki Feaver's essay to a young woman poet which was amazing for me to hear and read (I was lucky enough to have seen her first draft of the essay). 

It's the end of my year as a Scottish New Writers Awardee and what a wonderful year it has been. I have two meetings left with Vicki Feaver and I'll be sad when they're over. As an end-of-year finale the Scottish Book Trust has put together a Showcase Event where all the 2013 award winners will do a short reading of their work in front of an audience which will include publishers as well as the new 2014 award winners. That's this Thursday (30th Jan) 7.30pm at Summerhall in Edinburgh if anyone is interested (it's free!).

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

I like to read a decent biography over the Christmas holidays. It's become a bit of a tradition, a midwinter escape into someone else's life. This Christmas I read A Lucid Dreamer: the Life of Peter Redgrove by Neil Roberts and Sylvia Plath: Method and Madness, a Biography by Edward Butscher.

I'd been drawn to the Redgrove biography for a while. His reputation for strange visionary poetry and his background in analytic psychology sounded irresistible. I hoped it would help me approach his poetry which I've yet to get a great deal out of. Interesting though it is there is sadly very little in the way of poetry analysis or the relation of individual poems to his life. It certainly doesn't hold back on the many personal details about his life and while I applaud the openness, I feel I probably know more about him than I really want to!
I thought it was about time I got around to reading Edward Butscher's biography of Sylvia Plath. His book was the very first full-length biography written about Plath - published in 1976, thirteen years after her death. I wasn't expecting a great deal from the book having read many more recent biographies of her but was greatly surprised and pleased at the attention given to her poems and her creative progress in the book. In fact I think it's an excellent analysis of her life and writing and his tackling of her poems is insightful and stands up as well as any of the later studies written with the benefit of historical distance.

I daresay any fan of Redgrove would be delighted to read the Neil Robert's biography, if and when I get into his poems I'll probably go back and re-read it and enjoy it more. I'd thoroughly recommend the Butscher biography for those actually interested in Plath's work, rather than just the tragic mythic tale.   

Friday, January 03, 2014

Happy New Year!!

I read somewhere that 2014 is the year of the death of blogging. Whilst I don't think that's true - there are loads of regularly updated excellent poetry blogs out there - the role of blogging, for me, has changed over the last couple of years.

I initially set up this blog under a pseudonym as an outlet for my writing with the hope of meeting like-minded readers and writers and the hope of improving my writing. The results were far beyond my expectations. I found a creative community of people who inspired, encouraged and taught me so much. However because of magazines' stricter conceptions of 'publication' and not being able to post up  first drafts of poems, the blog has turned into an irregular newsy update on poetry publications etc.
I'm not sure of the future function of blogs like these as Facebook and Twitter have taken over the creative community aspect of blogging.

Anyway, my dream start to 2014 of having poems published in this month's Poetry magazine alongside such poets as Jane Hirshfield and Emily Berry has come true, much to my continuing utter amazement. You can read this month's mag here and listen to the podcast here where my poems are described as Homeric (!!!!!!) with reference being made to Yeats (!!!!!!!!). Always embarrassing hearing yourself read and I was pretty nervous but I'm so completely delighted at Don Share's and Lindsay Garbutt's
lovely comments on my poems. The rest of the year can sink into oblivion and it'll still be the best year ever!

 
   

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

When the lovely folk at Poetry magazine asked if I would be happy to record my poems for the podcast to go with the magazine I thought I would probably record my poems into my phone or tablet and email a soundfile off to them. Well I got that wrong - they booked a slot for me at one of the BBC recording studios in Glasgow!!!

So today I went up to Glasgow, found my way to the BBC and was escorted through tight security to a recording studio with a very helpful sound engineer. It was an odd experience reading into the mic with the headphones on, the sound engineer waving at me from the next room through the glass window and the American guy from Poetry on the phone listening in and chatting to me inbetween reading my poems! It was actually quite nervewracking at first until I got used to the sound of my voice through the headphones. However they were so friendly and helpful that I soon relaxed and enjoyed the process.

So! My poems will be in January's issue of Poetry magazine and I'm not sure how many of the poems they'll have on the podcast. It's been mind-blowing for me this last month or so - filling in contributor info for Poetry magazine, filling in US tax forms which I must say are Very complicated (Poetry mag pay VERY well!!!), reading and checking proofs for my poems and now recording my poems at a proper recording studio! I really am wondering whose life I've suddenly fallen into!

The programme for StAnza 2014 is now online. I'm excited to be reading on the Saturday along with three other New Writers at the New Writers Award Showcase event, my profile is up here.

I've had three wonderful mentoring meetings with Vicki Feaver who has been very generous with her help and advice. I think I have one last meeting with her in January which I'm desperately trying to come up with new poems for - all this other exciting poetry stuff has been quite distracting plus I've finalised and handed in the manuscript for my collection which has been a completely mind-consuming process.

I also have two new poems published - 'The Animal in the Pot' in Northwords Now which you can read online here (p7), and 'View' in Ink, Sweat &amp & Tears here.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Just had the most utterly amazing news, I can barely believe it...

Poetry magazine have accepted three of my poems for publication!!!
I could never in my wildest dreams have imagined being published in that most amazing and historically significant magazine.

I met Don Share, the editor of Poetry, at the Eyewear launch in London last week, where I read my Arrochar Alps poem. He liked it so much he wanted to publish it plus another couple of poems from my forthcoming collection.

I'm gobsmacked to say the least. It was great to hear him read plus hear and meet some other Eyewear poets. We all went for dinner afterwards at a lovely, cosy Italian restaurant where I had a good chance to chat with the other poets.

No more poetry plans for the next couple of months so I'll be able to start catching up with blogs and blogging a bit and maybe even some housework too!!

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Pascale Petit reads from 'Effigies' from The Mosaic Rooms on Vimeo. Pascale Petit reading some of her wonderful new poems based on the artwork of the Syrian artist, Lawand.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Life has been pleasantly busy on the poetry front:

Writing poems, re-drafting poems, filling in author questionnaires, sorting out an author pic, putting together a sampler for the Scottish Book Trust, reading in London, meeting with my writing mentor in Edinburgh and so on...

I so enjoyed the reading in London at the Eyewear event and super pleased to be back down in a few weeks time to be a guest reader at the launch of four Eyewear collections. Aside from the excellent poetry I just LOVE the Eyewear books!! They are all beautifully designed hard-backs and I'm so looking forward to mine coming out in the spring.
It seems things have been on a non-stop roll for a while now and I intend to make the most of it while it lasts!  I've been asked to participate in a reading showcase for the New Writers Award event at StAnza in St. Andrews next year and also been invited to read in Paris (!!) in the spring as part of an Eyewear poets reading night!

Originally the focus of my mentoring was going to be on putting together my first collection and obviously that's now not needed, so instead Vicki is helping me to extend my voice / exercise more control over voice and imagery and think about themes for working towards a second collection, which is tremendously exciting. It's so wonderful (and nerve-wracking) getting input from an amazing poet like Vicki Feaver, such a wonderful opportunity to push my writing further and escape the post-first-collection-slump. 

I've been reading lots of the two WS's (WS Graham and WS Merwin) and listening to podcasts from the Poetry Foundation website. I especially love the Lorine Niedecker podcast (she has such a beautiful voice) and the Stanley Kunitz podcast who I could listen to all day.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Can hardly believe it....




And this lovely write-up from Jon Stone, the competition judge -

“I chose Marion McCready’s Tree Language as the overall winner for two major reasons: firstly, the poetry is incredibly dark and rich and bloody (blood is a particular theme), with frequently brilliant lines and almost Celan-esque word pairings: ‘blood-cut son’, ‘snow-eyes dressing’, ‘death fruits’. Or how about a poem that opens, running on from its title:
Like a dead shrew
the baby lies comically still.
Secondly, as a collection, it’s superbly structured. Repetition within and between the poems is used to haunting effect; often, a motif or image returns in the manner of a memory resurfacing, or a recurring dream. The loosely held themes allow her to cover a range of territory, including war poems, over four distinct chapters, without seeming to stray from the direct path established in the opening pieces. This is assured, disconcertingly potent work with a sharp and distinctive flavour.”
Todd Swift, Publisher of Eyewear said “We are thrilled to be publishing Marion in 2014.  Tree Language is an extraordinary collection from a debut poet of rare ability and vision. This collection is a real find and I am ecstatic that through the Melita Hume Prize we are able to celebrate such a strong talent. ”
Tree Language will be publishing by Eyewear in Spring 2014.

Thursday, September 05, 2013



Can't believe it's coming up this Sunday!! I've been practising my set all week, it's been a while since I've done a reading so I'm a little nervous but really looking forward to it! It's nice getting an opportunity to read in London though I won't get much of a chance to do any touristy stuff as I'm flying down on Sunday morning and flying back up on Monday morning.
I've been doing so much reading lately and trying hard to focus my writing and instead of the proliferation of image-making, which has always been my first love in poetry, trying to develop a stronger narrative voice in a way that is natural to me and my writing. A new discovery for me has been James Dickey. I'm really enjoying reading his poems, reading up about him and interviews with him and his entertainingly catty comments about his contemporaries (check out the Paris Review archives interview with him!).
Been reading Selima Hill's People Who Like Meatballs on and off over the last couple of months and it's really staying with me. I'm still obsessed by the Imagists and I'm back re-reading Imagist Poetry by Peter Jones and constantly go back to H.D.'s Sea Garden (which is free on the kindle!).
Also keep going back to W.S. Graham, trying to learn how to do 'voice' from him since his 'voice' is so familiar to me coming from Greenock which is just across the Clyde from me and where I spent many a weekend staying with my grandparents as a child and walking the hills and streets with them. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

School holidays are over and it's bucketing down outside and everything feels comfortably back into normal routine. So I get the books out, poetry collections, folders of poems and I am glad for some quiet to work on a poem again and even to catch up on some blogging!

 



I've picked my set to read at the Melita Hume Poetry Prize reading event for those shortlisted which will be in London on Sunday 8th September and at where the winner will be announced! I would be delighted to meet any fellow bloggers there, it will be at the Betsy Trotwood Pub on Farringdon Road, 3pm. The event will be hosted by the poet Tim Wells.






Pleased to have a poem in the latest Gutter mag. A great issue which also features poems by Janette Ayachi, Rob A Mackenzie, Colin Will as well as poems from fellow New Writers Award poets Samuel Tongue and Kathrine Sowerby. There are also a couple of terrific poems by Jen Hadfield. Lots of prose too including short stories by Carol McKay and an old philosophy lecturer of mine, Paul Brownsey!




Wednesday, July 03, 2013

It's Official!



Here it is in black and white, well pink and brown! Very pleased to be alongside such good company, particularly the very talented Richie McCaffery! I'm hoping to make it down to the shortlist reading in London in September where the winner will be announced. You can read more about the shortlisted poets here.

Poetry prize!!

So I can finally reveal that my first full-length poetry collection, Tree Language, has been short-listed for the Melita Hume Poetry Prize!! The prize is £1000 plus publication by Eyewear Publishing headed up by the Canadian poet and editor, Todd Swift.
The winner will be announced in September but it's very nice to be short-listed! 
I'm also pleased to have a poem in the next edition of the gorgeous Glasgow-based Gutter Mag!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013



This year is the 150th anniversary of the planting of an avenue of fifty sierra redwoods in Argyll's Benmore Botanical Gardens. To celebrate, Benmore has had its own poet in residence for the month of June. I've been following poet, Sue Butler's Walking with Poets blog with great interest as she's been writing and conducting workshops from the gardens over this last month. She has an exciting project on the go of aiming to collect 150 four-line poems about the redwood avenue. At the time of blogging she has 100 poems, I've just sent three in. So she needs another 50 by this weekend to reach the target. You don't have to be from the area or in the area to write a four liner about the gorgeous trees but if you feel inclined to please do post them in the comments box at the Walking with Poets blog where you can read all of the other poems too!
I been a regular at the gardens since I was a child and it's exciting to see so much poetic activity happening there!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Ready to burst with excitement!
Part of the Scottish Book Trust award was the opportunity to be mentored for a period of nine months. In February I went for an interview at the Scottish Book Trust to see if mentoring would be, I guess, cost-efficient for them to 'invest' in me at my stage in writing. I was asked who I would like to mentor me, someone within reasonable traveling distance. So I mentioned a couple of names of poets who would be great to be mentored by but wouldn't be what I would call 'dream mentors'.
Then one evening, reading online, I noticed that Vicki Feaver now lives in Scotland, something I'd forgotten about. So I fired off a quick email to the SBT to say that she would be a dream mentor for me if it wasn't too late to put in a request. I didn't dare get my hopes up, perhaps she wouldn't be interested in mentoring or available etc but today I received a wonderful email from the SBT to say that Vicki Feaver would be mentoring me for the next nine months and our first meeting will be set up as soon as possible. So I don't know how long this stupid grin will be plastered all over my face but I imagine for a good while!

Friday, June 14, 2013



A powerful and moving short film about a tragic night in 2005, poems by the excellent poet and writer, Donald S. Murray. It was showcased last week on Change Shetland.
 I always knew I would like Alice Oswald's poetry but somehow never got around to picking up any of her collections. However I was so impressed by the Oswald poems we looked at during our workshops in France and especially by her composing method of meditating and asking things in the natural world to tell her their 'names' in order to write about them. It helped me write a poem about the water irises that I'd been struggling to write since I got to France so definitely another conceptual tool to add to my toolkit.
I also came across the typescript of an interview Oswald did for the BBC on 'Poetry for Beginners'. It's an absolutely fantastic read, in some parts I was sure I was reading Ted Hughes. I especially loved this section -

  "Poems are written in the sound house of a whole body, not just with the hands. So before writing, I always spend a certain amount of time preparing my listening. I might take a day or sometimes as much as a month picking up the rhythms I find, either in other poems or in the world around me. I map them into myself by tapping my feet or punching the air and when my whole being feels like a musical score, I see what glimpses, noises, smells, I see if any creature or feeling comes to live there."

Isn't that a wonderful image? You can read the rest of the interview here.
I've since bought her Woods etc collection and thoroughly recommend it.