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Review of MacSonnetries by Jameela Muneer

MacSonnetries: The Buds of May be by Petra Reid | Scotland Street Press, 2018 (2017)
— chosen by Jameela Muneer, teacher, solicitor, writer, and would-be ukulele player

I loved Petra Reid’s MacSonnetries: The Buds of May be, a witty sequence of 154 sonnets, with a contemporary postmodern twist. Each sonnet stands alone: the May be after the Buds suggests a joyful irreverence. Each poem is a response to Shakespeare’s original. It employs the Golden Shovel method, maintaining the Bard’s line endings in every sonnet. I did not immediately notice this at first reading: the structure is unobtrusive. Reid glides effortlessly over the social, political, cultural, and ideological mores of our times. The imagery of social media, computers and artificial intelligence, is juxtaposed humorously with Shakespeare’s concerns over procreation, jealousy and mutability. One of my favourite lines from Sonnet 65 becomes ‘Since jobs, nor shifts, nor hours, nor rising sea’ — I laughed out loud, not resenting the liberty taken by Reid. Shakespeare’s Sonnet 2 provokes the nonchalant feminist response that fillers can produce ‘baby bum smooth skin’; seventy-year olds can look like twenty somethings nowadays. Elsewhere there are references to Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall: ‘she will make him last for ever’. Madonna, Nigella, and domestic goddesses also get a mention. I relished the online dating advice: ‘only post your happy’ bits because ‘bingo wings selfies so cruelly show’, as well as ‘how to drop that sinful extra stone’. Subprime mortgages, non-Doms in London, Kim Kardashian and Tinder with Toy-boys are all covered. Finally, Shakespeare’s Sonnets104, 105, rendered into Scots, reveal Reid’s skill in this medium too. This erudite versatile collection offers the double pleasure of rereading Shakespeare, and Reid’s responses, separately, or side by side.

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July & August 2019

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A Land Girl’s Tale….

The following is an extract from The Drummond Civic Association Newsletter, January 2018

A LAND GIRL’S TALE…

It is a pleasure to welcome the latest publication of the Scotland Street Press. ‘A Land Girl’s Tale’ by Mona Macleod is the thirteenth title on the catalogue of this exciting publishing house which was founded in 2014 by Jean Findlay, the great-great-niece of C. K. Scott Moncrieff, the celebrated translator of Proust. Her biography of Scott Moncrieff, ‘Chasing lost Time’, was received with acclaim in 2014. The Press is committed to promoting Scotland as ‘a distinctive creative voice and in highlighting women’s voices’ which Jean Findlay feels are ‘underrepresented in literature as a whole in Scotland. Hitherto, the catalogue includes 9 out of 13 titles by women.
Mona Macleod’s absorbing memoir of her experience employed a Land Girl in Kirkcudbrightshire during the Second World War is a riveting account of the extraordinary but often unsung contribution by the Women’s Land Army to winning the war in Britain.

The author dispels any notion that the Women’s Land Army operated in some sort of charming rural idyll. On the contrary, the land girls had literally to turn their hand to most aspects of agricultural work including laborious field work, care of livestock, forestry, and even blocking up of rat holes. They were often cold and hungry, and were paid risible wages. Despite facing immense challenges, their contribution in keeping the country fed and the home fires burning should never be underestimated. Although the Queen recognised the achievement of the WLA at the end of the war in signed letters to individuals, shamefully it was not until 2000 that they were invited to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day. The only concrete commemoration of the work of

the Land Army is a sculpture near Buckie, unveiled by Prince Charles in 2012. As Mona Macleod rightly observes, this is a deceptively jolly image of life as a land girl which this book seeks to correct. She does so triumphantly. In this respect, the story of the WLA echoes that of the Bevin Boys who were conscripted to work in the coal mines in dreadful circumstances and whose sterling achievement was only acknowledged as recently as 2008.

B Land Girls cover 1

This is an immensely significant contribution both to the annals of Scottish social history and to the advancement of Women’s Rights in Britain. It is also immensely readable, and a typically stylish SSP production with delightful illustrations. JRM

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Firkin & the Grey Gangsters and Other Stories by Ann Scott-Moncrieff

AA firkin cover v2Category: Children’s Fiction
ISBN: 978-1-910895-15-3
Format: Paperback (B Format)
Pages: 170
Price: £8.99
Release date: July 2019

Firkin & the Grey Gangsters is a collection of three tales in which animals are the heroes.

Firkin & the Grey Gangsters was in 1936, a metaphor for the fear of takeover by corporate America – Firkin is a young red squirrel who leads his people in a battle against a horde of grey squirrel invaders from America. Firkin speaks in Scots.

The Sheep who wasn’t a Sheep is about the thoughts going through the head of a sheep, swimming between one Outer Isle and the other.

The White Drake is a farmyard drake in Perthshire learning about flying.