DURA's StAnza 2021 reviews: Lamping for Pickled Fish

Tuesday 23 February 2021

If there could ever be the right – the only – title for this poetry collection, then Lamping for Pickled Fish might be it, setting the reader up as it so neatly does for the illicit, for the hidden and obscure and for journeys into unexpected spaces.

This is Beth McDonough’s first solo pamphlet and it contains 29 poems, a few of which have been published elsewhere. In subject matter they divide roughly into three areas – the natural world, her travels in the Canary and Balearic Islands and family. Most of them are short, only a handful extending to a second page.

McDonough is a forager, avid in pursuit of the wild jewels of shoreline and hedgerow in her native north-east Scotland and a maker. A maker of jam, from Ronnie’s stolen rhubarb; of soused herring in the title poem; of a young adult from a toddler; and, effortlessly, of words from other words.

She works her language hard, pressing nouns and adjectives into service as verbs. In ‘Marmalade,’ where ‘fluff thickened pith’ places the poem firmly in the reader’s mouth, ‘juices loch onto boards,’ enabling an agile leap from the bitter zest of those Seville oranges, to sunshine in a Scottish winter....

This is an excerpt of a review by Alison Bell of Beth Mcdonough's Lamping for Pickled Fish. For more information on Mcdonough at StAnza21, please click HERE. To read the whole review, go to the DURA webpage