It was just over a year ago when I attended an online poetry reading by Mairi Murphy. I was struck by the accessibility of her verse, but more than that its passion and warm heartedness. So much so that her book landed on my doorstep just a couple of days later.

Ok, so it took another twelve months for me to read it, but ReadIndies 2022 was the perfect opportunity or was it? I can find no trace of the Paisley-based publisher, Clochoderick Press online. No website, no mention on the Publishing Scotland website, no entries at Companies House. The Scottish Poetry Library couldn’t tell me more than I already knew. Which is nothing. If I wasn’t holding the book, with its own bona fide ISBN (9781912345052) in my hand right now, I’d think I was hallucinating.

There is a badge of sorts on the back which states “Funded by Paisley 2021 for UK City of Culture”. This leads me to the hypothesis that Clochoderick Press was set up by Renfrewshire Council to promote local talent during their year of culture. If so, they were well organised, with all the Clochoderick Press books that I can find being published in 2018/2019. Nothing, not even any events, thereafter. If there’s anyone out there in the know, please get in touch. I hate unsolved mysteries.

And now back to the poetry. There are 39 in this collection. Most in English, some in Scots. Even after a year, I recognised the poems that went pulled on my heartstrings: the poem of a pregnant mother

and the poems of a daughter to her beloved father, which end the collection with heartbreak at the inevitable loss of him. In between poems with history at their core; the Irish potato famine, martyrdom of the saints, an angry poem about Brexit. This portrait of Murphy’s home town, Paisley gives you a good idea of her vivid style: the reality of the contemporary down-at-heel place, reclaiming stature and reputation through its cultural past. Not to be written off this hallowed ground.

There are also poems inspired by artworks, plays, television. I’ll leave with the most powerful poem in the collection, which is a response to Picasso’s Guernica, and, unfortunately, an ongoing experience for far too many in the world right now.

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