We’re delighted to be welcoming Rachel McCrum back to Edinburgh from Montreal as she performs for us at ScotLitFest LIVE on Saturday 22nd July, 7pm. (Buy your tickets here.)
To get you in the mood we have a couple of her poems to share with you.
A bit about Rachel:
Rachel McCrum has worked as a poet, performer and promoter in Edinburgh since 2012, arriving via Manchester, Belfast, New Zealand, Oxford and a small seaside town in Northern Ireland. She is Broad of Rally & Broad, winner of the 2012 Callum Mcdonald Award and the 2015 Writer In Residence for CoastWord, Dunbar. She has performed and taught workshops in poetry and performance in Greece, South Africa, Haiti and around the UK. Her second pamphlet Do Not Alight Here Again was published in March 2015 by Stewed Rhubarb Press, and in August 2015, she wrote and performed her first solo show at the Edinburgh Fringe, as part of new spoken word collective SHIFT/. She was the inaugural BBC Scotland Poet In Residence in 2015. She is included in the e-book anthology of Poetry Ambassadors for National Poetry Day 2016, published by Macmillan. Her debut collection The First Blast to Awaken Women Degenerate is published by Freight.
Oh my fathers
‘Love and be silent’ (King Lear)
Where did you leave your women, Ulster?
In the kitchens, at the sinks,
paring down, paring down
to the red sore quick of their nails.
By the time it got bad, the mills had already been shut.
The women to lose their duchess flax complexions, their hard earned holler.
To keep indoors,
bake wee buns, millionaire’s shortbread, scones
for the trestle tables down at the Field.
Behind a nervous blackbird trilling,
Brushed bowlers and immaculate white gloves step out.
Fingers splayed stiff on the wooden poles of the banners
Orange and purple sashes rigid with the oul ancient brocade.
But oh my fathers, you have told our story badly!
And pride forgive me, I will heave my heart into my mouth
and berate you for that stubborn, stupid pride
with which you have cuckolded yourselves.
Hunkered down, sullen as an unlovable child,
Finding comfort wrapped only in an old cloth.
Your hawsers rusted down to bitter knotted strength
Fibres gone to stone, granite manacles for your own flanks.
I love you as salt, bitter and vital,
left in tattered glittering ribbons
looping on a shore
the tide left long ago.
But the last time I stepped down onto the docks in Belfast
I saw ghosts of myself on every street corner.
One, older, stopped and turned towards me
Her mouth opened in a silent scream.
My Underwear Was Made Of Iron
On a street
with chewing gum
welded to paving slabs
and rubbish bins
and wire fences
like any street
a crate of oranges
making its way
made of iron
made of iron
with the metal spikes
both out and in
made of iron
and a steelboned
reigned in tight
a suit of rigid
and drew attention
in each hand
what can’t get out
also won’t let anything in
this is how we break butterflies,
The crate of oranges
in its steel hide