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The Pot of Earth and the Iron Pot by Ruth McIlroy

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‘I was happy being machine
when round the bend beside a stream
was birdsong happening in the trees.’

Ruth McIlroy is a poet of the ‘tilting world’. Her lyrics are charged with immediacy and proceed off-kilter in the revelation of familiar experience as unfamiliar and normality as something quite other. There is much here, directly and indirectly, of heroic Gaelic song, both ancient and modern, conveying humour, darkness and arresting beauty executed with startling, sure-footed precision. Whether in lamentation, the conjuring of a curse or jogging in the park, in every mode the singer is possessed by the song. I once asked a Gaelic singer from the Isle of Lewis – What are you thinking about when you sing these songs? Oh the song mostly, the song, she said. Ruth McIlroy has this secret and doesn’t so much make it new as show us that it never grew old. At every turn in The Pot of Earth and the Iron Pot song is happening not only in the trees but almost everywhere else too. —Kelvin Corcoran

Shearsman Books



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