Pàdraig Macaoidh is a native Gaelic speaker from the Isle of Lewis. His pamphlet offers poems in English, including the title poem, and in Gaelic, for which en face English versions are provided by the author, and in one instance by Ciaran Carson. Together the poems redouble the otherness of their title, playing brilliantly on the cultural ironies that accrue when an ancient language faces up to and bears down upon a world (a colonial politics), that has for centuries conspired with all its might to silence it.
The poems speak back to the past with the blend of tenderness and satire that has always characterised poetry in the Gaelic and the Scottish traditions. Here are poems on themes as old as love and as topical as the Iraq War, on the phenomenon of the selkie and other legendary matters, on leaving St Kilda (with words from the St Kildan dialect), on a latter-day Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair, and on language itself.
Iain Crichton Smith was given to saying that you could fit all true Gaelic speakers in an old-fashioned phone box. With Pàdraig Macaoidh on the other end of the line, it’s not hard to imagine why they’re in there. One can only imagine queues forming elsewhere, down innumerable island and highland roads, eager to lift the receiver from its cradle.
With the publication of this remarkable pamphlet we are pleased to announce that those queues might now be joined at all points of the compass, up and down the entire archipelago. Note on the author: Pàdraig Macaoidh was until recently a Research Fellow at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University, Belfast, writing among other things a study of Sorley MacLean due out in 2010. He currently works as a broadcast journalist for BBC Alba.
Limited edition of 100 copies.
(Clutag Press, 2010)