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These Islands, We Sing: An Anthology of Scottish Islands Poetry Hardcover – 1 Jul 2011


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Polygon An Imprint of Birlinn Limited (1 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846971969
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846971969
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 14.6 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 266,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

KEVIN MacNEIL was born and raised on the Isle of Lewis and is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh. As poet, novelist, aphorist, lyricist, screenwriter and playwright, his books include A Method Actor's Guide to Jekyll and Hyde (Polygon), The Stornoway Way (Penguin), Love and Zen in the Outer Hebrides (Canongate), Be Wise Be Otherwise (Canongate). Kevin's plays include Sweetness (adapted from Torgny Lindgren's novel) and The Callanish Stoned. His short stories have been published extensively. Kevin's first book won the Tivoli Europa Giovani International Poetry Prize for best poetry collection published in Europe by a writer under 35. The Stornoway Way was a bestseller and is currently being optioned for a film. MacNeil was the inaugural Iain Crichton Smith Bilingual Writing Fellow and has held further prestigious writing residencies in Sweden (Uppsala University), Bavaria (Villa Concordia) and a number of other places, including lecturing on the Creative Writing MSc at Edinburgh University. He often collaborates with visual artists and musicians. The William Campbell and Kevin MacNeil single Local Man Ruins Everything (Fantastic Plastic) was Single of the Week in The Guardian, in The List and on Steve Lamacq's radio show. In September 2009 MacNeil cycled 1300km of the Danube, from source to Budapest, on a single-speed fixed-gear track bike, for two cancer charities; the BBC filmed a documentary about him and his bike ride which took just a dozen cycling days. 2011 sees the release of an album and 'These Islands, We Sing: An Anthology of Scottish Islands Poetry' (Polygon, July 2011). Kevin lives in London.

Product Description

Review

Finally allows Scottish island poetry to be seen among the best of the nation's modern literature --Shetland Times

'Excellent' --Press and Journal

'A book as gift to the world' --Magma

About the Author

Editor Kevin MacNeil was born and raised in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Novelist, poet, playwright, editor, aphorist and lyricist, his books include A Method Actor's Guide to Jekyll and Hyde, The Stornoway Way, Love and Zen in the Outer Hebrides and Be Wise Be Otherwise. He is currently working on an album with William Campbell, a new novel, a film, a play and a travelogue-memoir based on his 1,300km cycle down the Danube in September 2009 for two cancer charities.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sheenagh Pugh VINE VOICE on 11 July 2011
Format: Hardcover
I feel very iffy about reviewing this anthology, because I have some poems in it. But it seems to me to have a far more interesting organising principle than your average anthology of "poets under 30" or "women poets", who don't necessarily have a damn thing in common. This is an anthology of poets who came from, or live on, Scottish islands (not just visitors on holiday) and as the thoughtful intro makes clear, this liminality does give their writing traits in common. "The islander's sense of being removed from the heart of things relates, I think, to the writer's sense of being an observer as much as a participant". This is true, though it should not be taken to mean that island poets are unaware of what is going on at the heart of things, just that they can view it with a certain amount of detachment. Jim Mainland's scorching, careering satire "Prestidigitator" is as committed a modern political poem as you'll find:

Watch this, watch my hands, look in my eyes:
this is viral, this is fiending, this is Celebrity Smash Your Face In,
I'm spooling tissue from an ear, I'm sawing her in half, no, really,
I'm vanishing your dosh, I'm giving it makeover, giving it bonus,
palming it, see, nothing in the box, check out
your divorce hell text tease sex tape, whoops,

but the same writer, in "The Gunnister Man", is acutely conscious of the massive timeline, reaching back centuries, on which he is a point and which connects him to everyone else who has ever lived there.
Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By shangri-la on 13 July 2011
Format: Hardcover
A beautiful and important collection of poetry, which includes established writers and some wonderful new discoveries. It's hugely varied, featuring the quirky and offbeat as well as more traditional poetry, and covering the spectrum of human emotion. There's tragedy, comedy, love, loss and everything in between, as well as lots of sea, salt air and mistiness. It will touch your soul, whether or not you have a connection with Scotland's islands (and if you don't, you'll probably want to visit them after reading this). Beautiful artwork on the cover, too!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Landgirl on 23 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback
These Islands, We Sing: An Anthology of Scottish Islands PoetryThe first time I took a ferry between the islands of Orkney, I asked a young man about the difference between the islands. He thought for such a long time I thought I had not been heard or I had transcended some Scottish taboo. In his own time, he shrugged and said, 'It's island life, isn't it?' I nodded as if I understood and have spent the last ten years--from time to time--trying to understand what it meant. Reading Kevin's anthology is a treasure trove--an intimate look at islands and island life. Some of which is just like life anywhere else, and some of which is not. This anthology provides a rare opportunity to have so many islands and their respective voices represented. If I had read this ten years ago, I would not have understood it in the same way that I can now having lived for a decade on the egde of the Pentland Firth. To the credit of both the voices in the anothology and to Kevin's editorial judgement, I'll be able to read it again and again and find more with each read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic. 11 Jan. 2013
By Robert Beveridge - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kevin MacNeil (ed.), The Islands, We Sing: An Anthology of Scottish Islands Poetry (Polygon, 2011)

I'll put it this way. I sprung for the hardback version of this book; when I bought it, it wasnt out in paperback yet. And I paid full shipping to have it sent over from Britain to America. This was not an inexpensive purchase, not at all. And I will tell you: had the book done nothing but introduce me to the poetry of Jim Mainland, I would still consider every penny well spent. All the other wonderful poets in the book I'd never read before? Icing on the cake.

Some of them, of course, I had heard of before. I would imagine it would be hard to be a reader and writer of poetry for three decades without coming across names like Hugh MacDiarmid and Sorley MacLean and George Mackay Brown, all of whom are represented here. But editor Kevin MacNeil seems to have been aggressive in his attempts to promote lesser-known writers whose careers had centered around Orkney, Shetland, Skye, and the rest, and he did a bang-up job. The inevitable downside to that is that once you get past a certain critical mass of poets, you end up being able to include only a few pieces per poet unless you want to end up with a book the size of your average Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry. Now honestly, in this case, I think MacNeil could have probably pulled something like that off; judging by what's here, a lot of the poets in this book are good enough that reprinting a larger selection of each's work and ending up with a twelve-hundred-page monstrosity that cost three times as much would have been a worthwhile risk. (Says one guy who does, in fact, understand that very few people buy poetry any more, though one of my goals as a reviewer is to endeavor to change that.) Then we could have gotten more work by such talented folk as Aonghas MacNeacail, Jen Hadfield, Angus Peter Campbell, Alison Flett, and dozens more.

It's ridiculous to quote one poet to try and give you the flavor of an entire anthology, so I will just say right up front I'm not trying to do that, I just want to quote from Jim Mainland's "Prestidigitator" because it blew my [censored for Amazon consumption] head off:
"Watch this, watch my hands, look in my eyes;
this is viral, this is fiending, this is Celebrity Smash Your Face In,
I'm spooling tissue from an ear, I'm sawing her in half, no, really,
I'm vanishing your dosh, I'm giving it makeover, giving it bonus,
palming it, see, nothing in my hand, open the box, check out
your divorce hell text tease sex tape, whoops,
gimme a tenner gimme your valuables this is a hammer this is an explosive
see the cleverdazzle off the mirrorgleam, moat me that you peasant!
over here, here, oy you, break-up Britain, toff off! watch this instead,
it's my way, it's bodies out of the hat, watch out, that's had your legs off,
this is brainsmear this is scorcher this is dying doing the job you loved this is
pure dead victim"
...and this from the guy who hates political poetry. I'm still going to tell you Jim Mainland is the best new poet I've run across since Richard Siken half a decade ago.

I am fond of saying in just about every review I do of an anthology that the quality of the work therein varies. These Islands, We Sing is a glorious exception to that rule. I should note for the record, since it might bother some of you, that many of these pieces are printed in Scots dialects, some presented bilingually and some not, so unless you know said dialects or until you pick up their rhythms and inflections, you may have trouble reading bits of this. I found it helped to read those bits aloud (I was reading pieces of this book aloud to my then-infant son, perhaps the only baby on the planet to grow up on both Boynton and MacNeacail in equal parts there for a while!).

The bottom line: if you have any interest at all in poetry, buy this. If you can't find a copy domestically (though that's getting easier), it's well worth springing for the exorbitant shipping you'll have to pay if you elect to pick it up from amazon.co.uk. It's a stunning collection, one of the few where you can slide a paper dagger into the book, open to the page it picks, and be almost guaranteed a solid read. Easily one of the best books I read in 2012. ****
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