Lindsay Macgregor is the new year’s Featured Writer. I first came across Lindsay through 52, the wonderful year-long poetry project. When I later discovered her pamphlet, The Weepers, was just coming out I ordered it straightaway and Calder Wood Press sent it nice and quickly. I couldn’t believe someone so assured hadn’t had a book of poems published before. But she won the Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award for 2015 and has also been published in prestigious magazines. I walked round with my nose in this booklet for quite a few days and mulled over the poems and it is still beside my bed.
For your information, ‘weepers’ are what professional mourners are called in Scots and I love the neat way the pamphlet is so cleverly sewn together by the poems called Weepers I, II, III etc which appear at intervals every few poems, leading the reader back to the real subject matter, however far we might travel in between into various characters who have died, their expertise in archaeology and astronomy , birds, landscape.
Many of the poems made me draw breath sharply. You feel in safe hands with these poems: the subject matter is mainly grief but humour is always about to break through and often does. Line endings, stanza breaks, imagery, phrasing all combine together to make an explosive small collection. And rhyme is used both craftily and wittily, sometimes imparting an almost ballad-like feel to the rhythm of the poems (even when they are not ballads). I also love the way there is a good salting of Scots words among the poems but then the poet likes to use quite technical words, le mot juste! (I was glad of help now and then with a small glossary at the end)
The poem ‘Cudknot’ on the Featured Writers page is one of my favourite poems in the pamphlet. This strikes me as funny as Lindsay told me the very first version of this poem was written here in Devon!
Here are the last lines of the second last poem called ‘Afterlife’:
As the Duty Nurse closes your lids
with her palms in a last benediction,
you’re hoping for laurels
and trumpets in heaven
or devils on horseback in hell. What you never expected
and no, there is no fullstop
At £5 it’s a really great little book to read and study. I shall be getting another of theirs too: Nuala Watt.