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This review is taken from PN Review 156, Volume 30 Number 4, March - April 2004.

IN SCOTLAND'S FAVOUR Modern Scottish Women Poets, edited and introduced by Dorothy McMillan and Michael Byrne (Canongate Books) £13.00

Modern Scottish Women Poets is a challenging and exciting book but perhaps one wonders why it has taken so long to compile such an eclectic and dynamic collection. The brief has been extremely broad and includes all writers who have worked or lived in Scotland. One question that might be posed is whether this fact imbues them with all that is required to be a Scottish woman poet and a second might be; does it actually matter too much?

Dorothy McMillan, joint editor with Michael Byrne, is quick to point out in the introduction that `this anthology seeks to celebrate the making of poetry, and the dedication to making, of all writers included in it'. Therefore the whole collection is rooted in the concept of `Scottishness' which has been a significant aesthetic catalyst for writers and artists across time. We are asked once more to revise our response towards the notion of gender, nationhood and place whilst exploring whether they are useful tags, or simply serve to constrain any useful discussion centred around these concepts.

It might seem vaguely disappointing to see yet another book published where gender separates art, but it can be noted this positive `discrimination' has increased women's profile considerably; women poets are no longer marginalised and this collection assists in continuing the process accelerated in the late twentieth century. What requires further study, however, is the notion of place, identity and language. As McMillan says, the `moral, emotional and linguistic aspects ...


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