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!!

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Book love

Some of my favourite poetry books are the big fat volumes of Collected or Selected poems - how wonderful to have all those poems by a single poet contained within one book. When I won £300 in a poetry competition in my early twenties I was so excited to have some money to spend on some of those huge expensive volumes. Back then I bought the Collected Emily Dickinson and the wonderful Complete Akhmatova along with some other books well outside my usual budget then including a large volume of modern Russian poetry.

My favourite recent collected or selected books have been Roethke, Selima Hill and Sujata Bhatt. Usually one of these volumes can be found in my handbag where ever I go (though Hill's selected is  rather large for my bag!). Pascale Petit's new collection, Fauverie, is due out soon but I really can't wait for a collected Petit to come out which surely must be on the cards.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

random photo - eagle carving at Arrochar!
I've been reading Theodore Roethke over the summer and though I'd read some of his poems before it's only now that they've really gripped me. The use of imagery from the natural world to intensely explore the psychological inner world, the adoption of folk beat and childish rhymes and language in order to break through to the deeper recesses of the mind I've found to be utterly fascinating and in line with what I'd been trying to work towards without really knowing that's what I've been trying to do!

It's the last week of the summer holidays and it has been a full-on summer of trying to keep the kids busy and entertained which has meant little time for writing though I've been working on a few poems and managed to read quite a bit. This year Ruby goes to school and everything changes for me - for the first time in seven-and-a-half years (since my eldest was born)  I'll no longer spend the majority of the day with a young child at my heels. A bittersweet feeling, didn't realise how much my subconscious was dwelling on it until it came out unexpectantly in a recent poem.
Much has changed in the last seven years, back then I thought when the kids went to school I would go back to studying and do a phd in political philosophy, but now all I really want to do is read and write poems! I will have to get a job though and had in the past had been involved in one-to-one tutoring in adult literacy which I really enjoyed and I'm looking to get back into again - I've spoken to the local community adult learning centre about doing some sort of creative writing class and they're very keen on the idea. But initially I guess I'm going to have a lot more time on my hands!

I was delighted with this brilliant review of Tree Language from Kirsten Irving which you can read on the Sidekick Books website here.

I went through to Edinburgh last week to record a podcast at the Scottish Poetry Library with Colin Waters, really enjoyed it - very much like a conversation rather than an intense interview, and Colin asked some really interesting / thoughtful / challenging questions - I only hope I didn't waffle too much in my responses! Wonderful to be in a library of entirely poetry-related books, so difficult choosing just six to borrow! Plus they have a good number of poetry mags and journals and I'm such a fan of Sujata Bhatt now that despite reading and re-reading her decent-sized volume of collected poems over the last four months I was so delighted to come across four new poems by her in the latest PN Review!

So the books I got out the library are -

  • Theodore Roethke: The Journey from I to Otherwise - Neil Bowers
  • The Terrible Threshold - Stanley Kunitz
  • Translations from the Natural World - Les Murray
  • Collected Poems - Lynette Roberts
  • Selected Poems - Laura Riding
  • Abyssophone - Peter Redgrove

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

So pleased to have a poem from Tree Language and a lovely wee write up in last Saturday's The Scotsman newspaper. Colin Waters from the Scottish Poetry Library contacted me last month to say that he wanted to pick a poem from the collection for the newspaper and that he wanted to arrange for me to do a podcast at the Scottish Poetry Library which I plan to go through to Edinburgh next month to do.
Colin has also taken three of my poems for an anthology of new Scottish writing he's putting together and which Liz Lochhead is writing the foreword for. I'm really pleased about it as an American professor at StAnza was bemoaning to me the lack of anthologies of new Scottish writing!
The lovely Australian poet Julie Maclean has featured a couple of poems from Tree Language on her blog here. I met Julie on Pascale Petit's wondeful poetry course in France last year and so enjoyed her poems. 
The very nice people at Transmission Magazine asked me to record a reading of one of my poems for their website which you can listen to here.
I have, I think, a solid seventeen poems towards a new collection so far. Quite different poems to the ones in Tree Language - much more expanded with the help of Vicki Feaver and Sujata Bhatt's Collected poems which have made these new poems possible. 

Monday, June 02, 2014

Delighted to receive the summer bulletin from the Poetry Book Society with a nice wee review of Tree Language.
A long poem of mine about Jerusalem is in the current issue of Envoi and I have three poems in a New York based online multi-media journal called Transmission (which you can find here) alongside poets Amy King and Elizabeth Spires. 
I have a good fifteen poems towards a new collection, quite different from the ones in Tree Language. Trying to stay disciplined about reading and writing and on the look out for some new reading inspiration. I've finally got around to ordering Selima Hill's Selected collection - Gloria -  which I can't wait to arrive as well as W.S Merwin's new collection, The Moon Before Morning

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Wine and books at the Eyewear Spring Launch!!

Wednesday, 21st May at 7pm

I'll be reading alongside Penny Boxall, Mandy Khan, Rufo Quintavalle, SJ Fowler and this year's Melita HUme Prize winner - Amy Blakemore who will be introduced by Emily Berry. If anyone is in the London area it will be a great night in the fantastic London Review Bookshop!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Reaching the dizzy heights of euphoria here!!!! My books have arrived for this Friday's Glasgow launch of Tree Language. Just can't describe how elated I am, may sleep with a copy under my pillow tonight :) Todd and the team at Eyewear really know how to produce simply gorgeous books, it really is Beautiful - designed by the excellently talented Dutch designer Edwin Smet. What an utter pleasure to see all my poems in these pages - feels like they've finally been brought together like a little family reunion!! 

launches Marion McCready’s Melita Hume winning debut Tree Language
Tell It Slant, 134 Renfrew Street, G3 6ST
Friday 16 May 7 p.m.
Just before her launch in London. Marion McCready will be joined by several guest readers.
Other readers: Samuel Tongue, Katherine Sowerby and Ross Wilson.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

It's coming up to the end of my nine months of being mentored by Vicki Feaver which was part of the very generous package put together by the Scottish Book Trust. It's been a wonderfully encouraging, stretching experience.

When asked by the SBT who would be my dream mentor (within travelable distance), I mentioned Vicki Feaver without genuinely expecting to be paired with her and was utterly surprised and delighted when I found out that she had agreed to do it. Every couple of months since last July I've been making my way through to Edinburgh to Vicki's flat and spent the afternoon with her poring over the poems I had written for our meeting as well as some poems by contemporary poets that we had brought to share.

Apart from the week I spent on Pascal Petit's course this was the first time I really had any experience of face-to-face thorough input from someone on my work so it was initially incredibly nerve-wracking. What I wanted from the mentoring was help to extend, open up my poems and develop the voice in my poems. It's been so good to have someone there to check with what exactly is and isn't working in my poems and it's given me the confidence to expand my writing knowing I'll get the all-important feedback on it.

Vicki herself is incredibly intelligent and astute as well as being a very generous and good-humoured mentor - I really don't think I could have had better. The pressure to keep writing in order to produce poems for our meetings has helped to make me much more of a disciplined reader and writer. Regular blogging is one of the things I've had to let by the wayside in order to keep my creative energies focused on writing. The challenge after our last meeting will be on keeping up the momentum and self-discipline.

The exciting news is.... my book has come back from the printers and now I'm just waiting for my author copies to be posted up to me.
Now that Paris is out of the way I'll be planning the Glasgow launch which will be held in Tell it Slant - Glasgow's new poetry bookshop on Renfrew Street, 7pm on Friday 15th May. Also reading at the launch will be Ross Wilson, Katherine Sowerby and Samuel Tongue - very much looking forward to it!

I have a poem from Tree Language up on Colin Will's Open Mouse here.

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.