The trumpet sounds.
All the monkeys are grooming themselves bald
in the zoos
Women slither out from gutters and under streetlamps
down from bedsits, and from behind garden fences
Foil sail unfolding irresistible as empty crisp packets
from pub table women
Women who sink a bottle of red and rage
with wine lips women
Rachel McCrum is one of Scotland’s highest profile poets and performers. She was co-founder of cult spoken word night Rally and Broad and the inaugural Poet in Residence at BBC Scotland. She has previously published two poetry pamphlets, Do Not Alight Here Again (2015) and The Glassblower Dances (2012) which was winner of the 2013 Callum Macdonald Award. She performs and teaches UK-wide and internationally and presented her first one woman show at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The First Blast to Awaken Women Degenerate is her eagerly-awaited debut collection.
Praise for The First Blast…
‘This is angry poetry, hungry poetry but never lean, mean poetry – she salivates and slavers, at times stretching language almost to breaking point, stuffing it full till it’s almost spilling through the slits in meaning, the five sound senses singing out generous, gargantuan and gorgeous in lists and litanies, polemics and parables; this is poetry that performs itself on the page out loud and proud – then can turn on a sixpence and stop the heart with a sudden, spare moment of naked vulnerability and tenderness.’ Liz Lochhead
‘Exhilarating to read these poems, the voices are ranging, Irish, Scottish voices, they come in, banging doors, from the street and the public house and the rented room above the library, with a blast of salt air and the smell of malt and red-knuckled ideas that say ‘Let’s dance’ and there’s so much oxygen in them, to breathe them in is rich for the blood. They are women’s voices, this is a woman’s voice, talking to you, this book.’ Francesca Beard
‘Poetry is a kind of sculpture here: bodies formed out of forgotten cities, assembled across waters and generations. Old histories are smashed to pieces, glued together into new identities, then smashed all over again in restless, ceaseless cycles of migration and reinvention. McCrum’s writing captures that feeling that Home is always a point on the horizon, something we are endlessly heading towards, although it might just turn out to be a chip in the windscreen.’ Ross Sutherland
‘The First Blast is rich in voice, threaded throughout with an abundant sense of sound and joy in words that carries directly from writer to reader. But, although the poems live well in the ear, measured by breath and movement, the voice is also self-questioning, uncertain — as sceptical of its mellifluities as it is playful in them. The result is a searching investigation of what it means to speak, and what the use is of speaking as a poet and a human here and now. There’s a bubbling political fury, a righteous anger that comes through with bitter twists and surprising gentleness, a desire to speak and act, and a reaching towards the fullest possibilities of what that might mean.’ Harry Giles