Living in a beautiful place such as Scotland, it can be hard to express in words how breath-taking the countryside and our scenery really is. For Marion McCready, the verses flow a little easier. McCready is an accomplished poet from Dunoon, Argyll, whose second collection of poems titled ‘Madame Ecosse’ (Eyewear Publishing) will be published next month. Her astonishing works as a poet have their roots in nature, topographical poetry about the landscapes of Scotland and in her latest offering she explores the complexities of the womanhood through a naturalistic narrative.
“I’ve written a lot about the female experience, history and mythology, using fictional narratives but very much in a Scottish context. So it’s really using nature images to explore what I want to talk about, which sometimes I don’t really know what that is, until I start exploring the images. In my first collection, it was much more nature imagery, using nature to explore the darker side to life, violence and what the natural world around us can tell us about that and human nature. So it’s pretty broad in that sense, but it always comes back to the physical. For me, the concrete image is important, so you don’t get lost in abstract ideas.”
The creative process takes time, effort and that elusive something else that can be harder to capture. For this artist, the process starts with images that resonate with her. “I tend to collect images and words. I write up a lot of notes all the time, and anything that stands out for me, I follow that and see where it takes me. Sometimes it starts with an idea, but very rarely do I know what I’m going to be writing about when I start. It’s kind of like waiting for something, that spark, and then you think “oh there’s something in that, I’ll follow it up and see where it takes me.”
Poetry has found new purpose in Scotland in recent years, perhaps in debt to the independence movement. In ‘Madame Ecosse’ McCready focuses on the Scottish identity but stresses that it’s not her whole motivation as a poet. “I think with the referendum in the last few years and rising awareness of questioning ourselves ‘What does it mean to be Scottish?’ there has been more self-awareness and a willingness to explore that. I think of myself as a Scottish poet but I don’t want that to be in a kind of narrow sense. I’m a poet first and foremost, I’m a Scottish poet, I’m a female poet, so I wouldn’t ever think all I can write is Scottish poetry, I wouldn’t want it to be restrictive in that sense.”
Outside of poetry McCready has pursued writing in essay form, and has recently taken inspiration for her work from archive ‘Boards of Canada’ style documentaries from the mid-20th century. When asked if she could have a drink with any writer from history, McCready said she would probably share one with Ted Hughes. She loves writers that have intensity in their work, her favourite line of poetry coming from 17th century poet John Donne, “Batter my heart, three personed God”. Her favourite poem of her own? “Probably a poem called Arrochar Alps. For me that was a real breakthrough poem, when I wrote it at that point I had broken a ceiling in my poetry, I knew I had gone past the superficial level that I’d done before. It was a new opening, so it’ll always be special to me.”
Marion McCready’s new collection of poetry, Madame Ecosse will be released on Feburary 10th 2017, from Eyewear Publishing. Follow @Marion_McCready on Twitter
Listen to a reading of ‘Arrochar Alps’ by Marion here.