Our featured publication for February is Much Left Unsaid by Finola Scott, published by Red Squirrel Press.
‘From tender explorations of family love to subtly phrased exposés of every kind, these vivid and surprising poems engage the reader on every level. Finola Scott is attuned to the natural world, from which she draws many of her images, but equally alert to townscape and domestic interiors. There are dazzling leaps of imagination: an artist ‘tastes wind from Africa’ on Lanzarote as he ‘waits for Franco to finish’; a woman in an antenatal clinic thinks of her pregnancy as a pilgrimage, and kisses her ‘bruised antenatal card’ like a relic. A strong sense of being alive pervades the collection, but an equal sense of the precariousness of human happiness in poem after poem balances the reader like the acrobat of the reopening poem on tiptoe between dancing and downfall.’ A C Clarke
‘Finola Scott’s debut pamphlet showcases a bold new voice, full of grit and reality. At times experimental, at times playing with poetic tradition, these are poems of difficult tensions. Scott’s verse explores the depths of memories whilst avoiding sentimentality. It blends beauty with threat to create stark scenes of bruised women and washed sheets, queens and pirates. These are poems without pretence, unfolding lives in miniature. Scott lifts the rock, uncovering least-seen corners of the world.’ Russell Jones
Cardowan Colliery, North Lanarkshire
My rubble-full garden’s no use for digging,
I don’t dare go deep. At times I hear canaries
cheep for breath, bogies rattle rails, bent men
cough for sunlight at end of days.
In the church car park, traffic in shifts
charts the days. Flower Arranging, Choir Practice.
Wedding-hatted women, lads in fierce pride kilts.
Floodlights keep the dark in its place.
Tarmac over pit-propped caverns, shaky hollows,
greedy snaking tunnels. The dead recorded
in the new estate roads where salaried men drive home,
hands soft and clean, music playing.
The earth remembers.
Teuguise, Lanzarote 1619
Pirates enter on a day thick with storms.
The shutters are snicked too late,
the fincas barred in vain. Heavy cloud
tricks the watchers while sails wait furled
at the coast. Death is here, on the cobbles.
The raiders twist in smooth as corkscrews.
Flagstones shine sangre slippy with the spilt
lives of sons, uncles, friends. Hidden away
Juana thinks of the old man her father
has chosen for her groom.
The women jostle to peer through slits
in the fortress that’s squatting on the shoulder
of the volcano. The ground shudders to the whack
and crack of bones in the town below. Echoing
oaths rebound in courtyards. Maria and Fayna
are puzzled by the blue eyes, bear-fierce beards,
careless laughter of the marauders hurtling in.
Juana’s mother pushes her into the shadows,
orders her to cover her ebony hair, hide her
jewels. But Juana stands on tiptoe to marvel
at the grit and spit of lava on their lips.
Riding the Marches
If I had thought, taken a sliver of time,
I’d have checked my soft boundaries.
Ridden them regular, cut a sod of turf,
nailed a herring to a bannock,
minded my back.
But I didn’t hear moss sneak and stretch.
Didn’t see larks’ tongues wag.
Dark vigilance or weary watching might
have spared me wounds.
Walls, hedges encroached unseen.
Markers moved in midnight hush,
rocks lured by deceitful streams.
Unguarded, my safety shrank as the vixen sang.
Masked strangers, marauders, came
trusted at my door, as friends not foe.
Too late for cavalcades or queens.
All sheets to the wind
When it’s time, flap me, wrap me
to sleep, in silk, all printed with travels
and you. Skin unsullied, hair
story-booked, I’ll dream drift
on a different curve. My toes will tingle-grip
all the sand, all the puddles we plashed.
Tuck me tight in map-memories
contoured streets, frescoes and freesia.
Set me full sail.
Glaswegian Finola Scott’s poems can be found on posters, postcards and tapestries. Her work has been anthologised in many publications including Gutter, New Writing Scotland, The Fenland Reed, Lighthouse and The Ofi Press. She was commissioned by StAnza International Poetry Festival for inclusion in a multimedia installation issued as a postcard in 2019. Finola has read her poems at many events including Edinburgh International Book Festival, Welshpool Festival and Brantwood. She read her prize-winning chapbook poems, published by Blue Nib at the launch in Galway.
Much Left Unsaid is available from the Red Squirrel Press website.