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Winter Moorings

Andrew McNeillie

Cover of Winter Moorings by Andrew McNeillie
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Categories: 21st Century, Scottish
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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Paperback (72 pages)
(Pub. Feb 2014)
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(Pub. Feb 2014)
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  • Contents
  • Reviews
  • Lafan

    Already your long low tide draws me down
    And your trompe l’oeil of sailing through sand
    Runs my loss against those mussel banks
    At the mouth between island and mainland.

    At mere memory of your name I drown
    And all that sails in me looks to the lifeboat
    Whether Tillie, Annie, Isabella or Lilly
    And What-Ho! herself and the Menai Light.

    From the saintly life of the headland I
    Take spare comfort, grateful for small mercy,
    The life of the head and the brain-cell
    Flashing intermittent signal blindly.

    Blind as in faith, on the sea of language,
    The eighth sea with its own ports of call,
    A mirror world in the world’s image.
    Here I come again by Lafan to make landfall.
    Andrew McNeillie’s sixth collection returns to the sea and its immensity as a metaphor for fate. It also revisits the British and Irish archipelago (‘For which read a figure for my heart. / For which too read a figure for time’s hurt’), following a north-western trajectory from the Aran Islands to the Hebrides. The natural world is seen here in both its beauty and its indifference to human beings (‘There’s many a thing more lasting than a person’). From a version of ‘The Seafarer’ to an elegiac play ‘for sounds and voices’ retelling the story of an English airman drowned off Aran in World War II, these poems speak of lives and deaths across the reaches of history.
    Winter Moorings
    Block: A Pulley Used in Running Rigging
    Strong Lines
    In the Wake of ‘The Seafarer’
    Words at Sea
    Old Salt’s Prayer
    Trouvé: Rigg Bay
    Machars: War & Peace
    Laver Weed
    Island Hopping
    By Ferry, Foot, and Fate
    Lighthouse at Daybreak
    Critique of Judgement
    On Looking into an Old Photograph
    An English Airman’s Death Recalled
    ‘The sea goes all the way round the island’
    On the Rocks Road
    Port Sheánia Revisited
    Harbour Inn
    On Not Sailing to St Kilda
    A Return of the Native
    Round About a Great Estate
    Shore Leave
    At the Landfill Site 
    Andrew McNeillie was born in North Wales and read English at Magdalen College, Oxford before becoming an editor and publisher. For a key period in his life, he was literature editor at Oxford University Press. He has also held a chair in English at Exeter University where he is now Emeritus ... read more
    'There is some extraordinary virtuosity here - in one poem, he finds 33 half-rhymes for 'envy'.
    John Greening, Country Life
    Praise for Andrew McNeillie 'Striking a Match in a Storm illustrates that McNeillie is one of Wales's leading modern poets, and his work ranks alongside that of Gwyneth Lewis, Robert Minhinnick, Gillan Clarke and Dannie Abse. No anthology of Welsh poetry will ever be complete again without a comprehensive selection of McNeillie's poetry.'
    PC Evans, Poetry Wales
    'The wind blows hard and the sea crashes through his poems, brilliant and evocative of the littoral... [a] multifarious collection. Striking a Match in a Storm demonstrates an outstanding nature writer at the helm of these poems.' 

    Dan McCarthy, Irish Examiner 

    'A living poetic language flows, easy and slangy, the occasional poems which punctuate the later part of the collection are vitalized and real, among them elegies that remember mourning his father's death, and other deaths, which ring true, urged into being by poetry itself.'
    Gillian Clarke
    'The finest poems here are witty and elegiac, comforting and cajoling and speak of pervading human concerns with a rare lyrical ease and quiet authority. McNeillie's special gift is for providing the pleasure that comes from recognition: we can see ourselves in his poems. The book carries an epigram from Wordsworth, and there is a Wordsworthian sense of audience and connection in this collection.'
    Times Literary Supplement
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