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This review is taken from PN Review 165, Volume 32 Number 1, September - October 2005.

NORTHERN LIGHTS (1) ALISON PRINCE, The Whifflet Train (Mariscat Press) £5.00
ANNA CROWE, A Secret History of Rhubarb (Mariscat Press) £5.00
JAMES McGONIGAL, Passage / An Pasaíste Mariscat Press) £5.00

Here are three collections from Hamish Whyte's Mariscat Press, a publisher that specialises in the handsome first publication of collections by Scottish poets. Several key works by Edwin Morgan and Gael Turnbull have been published first by Mariscat: the press is international in outlook and open to the possibilities of a Scottish poetry of range.

Mariscat have published longer collections - Douglas Lipton's The Stone Sleeping Bag, with its excellent herbal-cum-bestiary 'The Flora and Fauna of Scotland' comes immediately to mind - but it takes its name from a modest southside road in Glasgow where it first had its home (recently moving to Edinburgh), and small has indeed proven beautiful for many of its creations. Sequences and small gatherings, published in thirty-two or so pages, are its strength, usually designed refreshingly and observing some bibliophilic production values, such as endpapers, to which larger publishers do not always pay attention.

James McGonigal's five-section poem Passage: An Pasaíste follows on from the much shorter pieces in Driven Home from a few years earlier. The striking visuality of the previous book is still in evidence here, but the way in which McGonigal achieved this - through short and often delightful phrases linking one natural phenomenon to a social or artificial object or idea (a comparison would be with MacCaig, but only as a shorthand before you saw how different McGonigal is) - this technique is joined by a slower ...


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