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7 by 7 inches | 72 pp
978-1-926655-88-8 | $20.00

16 greyscale 5 colour photographs


An encounter with the seventeenth-century Hebridean bard Màiri nighean Alasdair Ruaidh (Mary MacLeod).

poems by Marilyn Bowering
photographs by Xan Shian

The words of Threshold are plain, as bare and pregnant as the stones of a ruined croft. Marilyn Bowering unites her voice with the life and words of a silenced, exiled female Hebridean poet who speaks across three centuries. Xan Shian's photographs face this world of extremes and change with a timeless and contemporary eye.

Marilyn Bowering photo by Michael Elcock

Marilyn Bowering is a poet, novelist and non-fiction writer who lives in British Columbia. She has received many awards for her work including designation of Notable Book by the New York Times, short-listing for the world-wide Orange Prize and a number of prizes named after women poets (Dorothy Livesay, Pat Lowther and Gwendolyn MacEwen). She is the librettist for the opera Marilyn Forever (with Gavin Bryars). www.marilynbowering.com

Mary MacLeod (Màiri nighean Alasdair Ruaidh) was a Scottish Gaelic poet. She was born c.1615 on the island of Harris and died at Dunvegan c.1707 on the island of Skye.

Xan Shian has lived and photographed in Montreal, Scotland, Spain, France and Victoria; she works primarily with film and makes most of her edits in camera. Her work has been published in a variety of periodicals and exhibited in Montreal, Edinburgh and Victoria. www.xanshian.com

Xan Shian photo by Mia Watkins

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From a review by Brenda Leifso writing in Arc Poetry Magazine:

After having, quite literally, stumbled upon the life and burial ground of the exiled Hebridean poet Mairi nighean Alasdair Ruiadh (Mary MacLeod), Bowering finds Mairi's voice still alive and powerful across three centuries. In spare verse, Bowering searches for traces of
Mairi and for what it means to be a woman poet in a changing culture when poetry, as in Mairi's later years, is largely disregarded; about having a vocation for an art form for which there is small reward or place; and about being an older woman living with the problems of age which include grief, anger, and physical fragility (and with the need for some pain-killing whisky) and with its privileges, too, such as having learned trust in heart and intuition and to believe, despite the flow of contemporary events, that words retain the power to affirm human values and communicate wisdom across cultures and even time and space. That words may outlast a fall of darkness (Afterword 66).

Bowering accomplishes what she sets out to. Most poems, like "Sometime in the night," contain a precision in line and rhythm that allow for pure conjuring... Given how Mairi herself was exiled for delivering poems to clan leaders that they did not like, and given the silencing of women poets' voices that still occurs today, it is fitting the book ends with "Rodel," a poem that speaks to Mairi's burial and how "it is said by some, that she asked to be buried face down; and by others that it was done by those who had not thought she had a right to be a poet."

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