December 10th, 2015
The story goes that exiled and silenced seventeeth-century Hebridean poet Mary MacLeod (Màiri nighean Alasdair Ruaidh) was banned from composing any song indoors or outdoors, so she defiantly wrote a song on her threshold instead. Hence Threshold (Leaf Press $20) is the name of Marilyn Bowering’s tribute to the revered, rebel poet whose songs are still sung in the Hebrides. Bowering’s poems are spare tributes, evoking Màiri as a sister poet. The book includes an afterword about Bowering’s Hebridean rambles to the islands of Harris (burial places of the MacLeods), Berneray (where Mary MacLeod lived), North Uist and South Uist in 2010, and about her history with Mary MacLeod. Those expecting a travelogue for the Hebrides or a Màiri biography must look elsewhere. The small book includes five colour and 16 black & white uncaptioned artsy, nature photos by Xan Shian (Bowering’s daughter) who has lived and travelled in Scotland both with her family and on her own. Mary MacLeod was born c. 1615 on the island of Harris and died at Dunvegan c. 1707 on the island of Skye. Threshold was the co-winner of the Gwendolyn MacEwan Poetry Competition for Best Suite in 2013. (978-1-926655-88-8. 72 pp)
Xan Shian in 2013 at Morar, looking over to Skye from the mainland.