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Ben Dorain: a conversation with a mountain

GARRY MACKENZIE

The author, Garry MacKenzie, writes of this book:

“My book-length poem draws on the work of an eighteenth-century Gaelic poem by Duncan Bàn MacIntyre, rendering it into English. Where it does so, this is not to present MacIntyre’s poetry per se to an English-language reader, as is customary with a translation or version. Instead, the sections of Ben Dorain which draw upon MacIntyre’s poem incorporate that earlier work into a whole which is completely new. MacIntyre’s work is always in conversation with (and frequently contradicted by) lines which do not derive from him and which bring in contemporary ideas about ecology, land use, environmentalism, music, mythology, queer theory, and diverse cultural histories not to be found in the Gaelic poem. MacIntyre’s lines are never unfiltered by contemporary thought or commentary. My approach was to create a new, multifaceted, ecological poem, rather than simply to render a Gaelic poem into English so that it is available to a wider readership. For that reason I describe the poem not as a translation or version, but as a creative conversation.”

£ 20.00

978-09935532-8-8 Hardback 114 pages

Kathleen Jamie writes in the introduction to this book:

“When we may feel as though our species and our planet is cascading into a future unknown, and uncertainty is all about, it may seem odd to publish a book which is ‘a conversation’ with a mountain, the very symbol of solidity. The mountain is Ben Dorain, which rises near Bridge of Orchy. It appears as Fuji-esque cone from some angles. The conversation is also with a praise poem composed 250 years ago, by Duncan Bàn MacIntyre. MacIntyre’s poem is a musical paean to this one particular Scottish mountain and its deer. The original poem is in Gaelic, a language no longer spoken on that mountainside.

But what Gary MacKenzie has done, in this wonderful book, is to revivify that poem. He has created a new ‘inhabited music’ which springs McIntyre’s work into the present day. It’s not a translation, nor a modernised version, though there is that also. He has opened MacIntyre’s mountain poem like a geode, to use a geological term, and he has created an environmentally-aware, science-informed poetic counterpoint in English, which he presents dancing along with MacIntyre’s re-expressed eighteenth-century vision. Like the deer they so admire, the two poets’ lines leap back and forth across the page, across times, across languages, across species and poetic forms. It is a new work which alerts us to the tradition, which is to say, to the consciousness of the past. It calls this consciousness into the present, so that its wisdom might strengthen us for the environmental challenges to come.

But this is not primarily a political work. This is a work of love: of landscape and animals and poetry. Despite the shifting grounds which surround it, Ben Dorain the mountain remains true and centred, its marvellous creatures marvellously observed.”

Duncan Bàn MacIntrye’s eighteenth-century long poem in Gaelic, Moladh Beinn Dobhrain (Praise of Ben Dorain), is also included and follows Garry MacKenzie’s long poem in English.

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About The Author

Garry MacKenzie is a poet and non-fiction writer based in Fife, Scotland. His poetry has been published in journals and anthologies including Antlers of Water, The Clearing, The Compass Magazine and Dark Mountain. He was awarded an Emerging Scottish Writer Residency at Cove Park in 2019, and is a recipient of a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award. He has won the Robert McLellan Poetry Competition and the Wigtown Poetry Competition, and his book Scotland: a Literary Guide for Travellers is published by I.B. Tauris. He has a PhD in contemporary landscape poetry, and teaches creative writing and literature. This is his first volume of poetry.

Garry McKenzie

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About The Author

Garry MacKenzie is a poet and non-fiction writer based in Fife, Scotland. His poetry has been published in journals and anthologies including Antlers of Water, The Clearing, The Compass Magazine and Dark Mountain. He was awarded an Emerging Scottish Writer Residency at Cove Park in 2019, and is a recipient of a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award. He has won the Robert McLellan Poetry Competition and the Wigtown Poetry Competition, and his book Scotland: a Literary Guide for Travellers is published by I.B. Tauris. He has a PhD in contemporary landscape poetry, and teaches creative writing and literature. This is his first volume of poetry.

Weight 446 g
Dimensions 224 × 205 × 20 mm