3 new poems by Maxine Rose Munro: “First Disco”, “Summer Snow” & “Sleight of Mind”

rock formation with snows

photo by Ruben van Wigngaarden

First Disco

Uncertain shades spread over eyes 
dressed new for tonight, lip-sticked 
nerves bob in her smile, all alone 
 
on the floor, crowded by pushes 
on fragile confidence, she waits 
for what comes next. Glances 
 
dart her way. Small minnows 
in shoal circle, connect, flash 
smiles of recognition, touch, 
 
separate, look back and 
tig – you're it!

Summer Snow

That summer it snowed 
daisies. I remember 
you dancing 

among them, yellow heads 
nodded to the childish 
rhythms 

you loved back then – hula 
hooping through white 
exuberance 

along pixie pathways 
of your own design. 
You saw secrets 

that summer that you 
never told and I 
didn't ask, 

not till the rains came 
down. Too late 
by then, 

you'd forgotten 
your daisies and drifted 
away from such places.

Sleight of Mind

How wondrous it was, wasn't it?
Our childhood, our newly born
into a state of being, emphasis
on new, on innocence (implied)?
 
Such freedom to move within
magic, to breathe the fantastic
and battle the terrific, to live
to the full. To be, to be, to be
 
without stress, without worry,
without monsters undefeated,
without fear of loss, without
costs. Pain without comfort
 
could not be imagined, not for
us, not then, not when we were
young. Wasn't it wondrous?
Wasn't that how it was?



A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Maxine Rose Munro

Bio: Maxine Rose Munro is a Shetlander adrift on the outskirts of Glasgow. She writes in both English and her native Shetlandic Scots, and is widely published in the UK and beyond, both
in print and online, including in Acumen; Ink, Sweat and Tears; and Southlight. Find her here
www.maxinerosemunro.com


A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Maxine Rose Munro

with Maxine Rose Munro:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Maxine: I started writing and submitting in 2014. Prior to that, barring when I was a small child, I made poems up in my head a lot but never wrote anything down. As a child I loved to write poetry at school and memorised a whole book of Spike Milligan poems, a few of which I still know to this day. I also loved Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Maxine: I always say I prefer poems over poets. Give me an anthology over a collection any day. What motivates me is hearing a wide variety of approaches and voices. I find it so refreshing that poetry can be so varied, and that there is a place in it for me. Saying that I do find myself drawn to Scottish poets. I think, being Scottish myself, I recognise the lyricism and syntax in the poetry. Such poems always feel a bit like ‘home’ to me.

Q3: Any pivotal moments when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Maxine: As I said, I loved it as a child. Sadly, I did rather badly at poetry in high school – I think I rebelled against being told there were rules, and being made to feel I had to give up my childhood poets in favour of Slyvia Plath or Wilfred Owen. So I stopped writing. Then in 2013 I went through a very bad patch and, as so many people do, I turned to poetry. Right then I knew this was what I needed to do, and keep doing.

Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?

Maxine:

This is a tricky one. I’m an introvert and prefer to hide my work in the shadows until I submit it. I have done a course with The Poetry Kit, which got me from wannabe to published. And the twitter poetry community is a huge support, even for someone who suffers from Social Media Anxiety, like I do. But most of all I think those editors who accepted my poems, and those who rejected my poems, helped me develop and grow. I jumped in the deep-end, and it is the editors who have helped me sink or swim. And, thankfully, I’ve not yet drowned.

Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & have any travels away from home influence your work?

Maxine:

I grew up on the Shetland Islands, the most northerly part of the UK, and it is EVERYTHING to my writing. I always write as a Shetlander adrift. I don’t know any other way. I was a particularly sheltered child – my dad was weaver, which sounds romantic, but meant we lived on the breadline and so holidays off the islands never happened. When I finally left, aged 18, I had never seen so many of the things people take for granted – tall trees, motorways, trains, cities, and so on. I still feel shocked by the difference all the time, decades later. The flip-side is I did take for granted things like seals, otters, northern lights, dark winters and white light summers, the sea, and the beauty of language.

Travels occasionally make it into my work, though rarely in a direct way. As someone who still finds mainland Scotland mind-blowingly different, travels further afield tend to overwhelm the poet in me. One exception is ‘Babel’, published by Fevers of the Mind and nominated for Best of the Net (thank you!). Situated in France, it is a poem about language and how it connects or separates us.

Q6: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?

Maxine:

This one is almost impossible to answer – I might give you a different answer if you ask me on another day.

But I would say that two poems spring to mind – ‘Mother Tongue’ (first published by Acumen, though it can also be found as part of Wave Five on the Iamb website, complete with reading), and ‘Sjusamillabakka’ (published by Fevers of the Mind). Both are poems about being caught between extremes. 

‘Sjusamillabakka’ uses the metaphors of being caught between sea and land, one language and another, yet somehow never actually being properly in either, to talk about always feeling an outsider. And of course, there is a literal truth in the poem for me – I am caught between two languages, yet I never feel I belong to either.

Most people read ‘Mother Tongue’ as being about my parents. But although I wrote that story into the poem, that’s the one thing the poem isn’t really about! ‘Mother Tongue’ takes the ideas in ‘Sjusamillabakka’ further, into that of earth and sea; practicality and imagination; the concrete and the abstract. The poem has many layers built into it (some only visible to Shetlanders, such as the Shetlandic Scots language is one without a single abstract noun). At its heart ‘Mother Tongue’ is about the Shetland people, all these apparent dichotomies you will nevertheless find existing side by side within every single Shetlander there ever has been, or ever will be.

Q7: Favorite activities to relax?

Maxine: Read! There can’t be a poet alive who wouldn’t put read high on their list. I like to go camping, spend time in the garden, watch history and science programmes on the tv. I’m also quite big on doing nothing. So many poems come out of a bout of sitting about doing nothing very much. Doing nothing is an under-rated pastime in my opinion.

Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?

Maxine:

“For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea”
from maggie and milly and molly and may, by E. E. Cummings

As for from my own work, I used to think it was quite vain to quote your own lines. These days I realise that after all the work I put into them, enjoying them is no sin. But I have no favourites, it changes with my mood.

Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?

Maxine:

Poets just starting out, or those looking for a reader for a manuscript, should take a look here

https://maxinerosemunro.com/feedback-%26-mentoring

My prices range from free to very reasonable, and I have had very positive feedback about my feedback!

Links:
3 new poems by Maxine Rose Munro

3 new poems by Maxine Rose Munro : Dear Mr HJW Gilman, Containing Eden, Sjusamillabakka

3 poems by Maxine Rose Munro : “This, my most honest of poems”, “Babel”, & “On a hillside,”

2 poems by Maxine Rose Munro in Fevers of the Mind Poets of 2020 “Some Things Cannot Be Mended” & “The Last Strawberry”

https://maxinerosemunro.com/

https://www.thepoetmagazine.org/interview-with-maxine-rose-munro

http://www.poetryatlas.com/poetry/poem/5010/

http://www.poetryatlas.com/poetry/poem/5007/

https://www.poetrykit.org/CITN/citn%20171.htm

https://richiemccafferypoetry.wordpress.com/2020/04/19/two-poems-by-maxine-rose-munro/

Bio: Maxine Rose Munro is a Shetlander adrift on the outskirts of Glasgow. She writes in both English and her native Shetlandic Scots, and is widely published in the UK and beyond, both
in print and online, including in Acumen; Ink, Sweat and Tears; and Southlight. Find her here
http://www.maxinerosemunro.com

3 new poems by Maxine Rose Munro

train passing by bridge over mountains
from unsplash.com by Bjorn Snelders

When this is all over

Let’s imagine a hill
tall enough to see everything from
and we’ll sit on a bench, red
if you want it, look out
at parks just so full of people
that it will make you smile
without meaning to.
And we’ll watch streets thronged,
yes! thronged will be the proper word.
And shops will have doors wide open
to allow all the people, also smiling,
out and in.
And there will be people
eating their favourite foods
in restaurants, sat side by side,
cheek by jowl (imagine!)
and no one will mind the crush.
And the music will be playing everywhere
and the dancing –
oh! the dancing
will be infectious and we’ll tap our feet
up on our red bench on tall hill.
We’ll be so happy,
everyone will be so happy.
When this is all over.

Reynard

Reynard, not dog nor wolf,
slides through other worlds
in-out-in-between, never other

than what he is, nothing less
could do as he is, being
that which is alone in dark-light.

His musk scent-nose is touch.
Sight is as you can’t feel-see-be,
have or can. And as he is, he lives.

The Island Dogs

Watch out for us!
Lone canine or running pack
we get what we want.
Our hunts will be long,
stealth comes easy
to island bred hounds,
you won’t ever see us come,
us island dogs and bitches.
Oh, puzzle over our guttural growls.
Never know how much we tell
with each draawn out vowel
and nipping consonant.
Marvel at how we homespun things,
spartan, uncomplicated creatures,
seem to get
what it is you are thinking.
We do, oh we do. We think
you have no clue.
We’ve already encircled you,
our teeth bared, ready to spring.

*Author note: it’s hard to believe it now, but when I first swopped the Shetland Islands for the west coast of Scotland I encountered quite extreme prejudice, including being called an ‘Island Dog’. I was even physically attacked in a pub toilet and told to ‘Go back home’.

Bio: Maxine Rose Munro is a Shetlander adrift on the outskirts of Glasgow. She writes in both English and her native Shetlandic Scots, and is widely published in the UK and beyond, both
in print and online, including in Acumen; Ink, Sweat and Tears; and Southlight. Find her here
http://www.maxinerosemunro.com

3 new poems by Maxine Rose Munro : Dear Mr HJW Gilman, Containing Eden, Sjusamillabakka

Dear Mr HJW Gilman
(After Mrs Mounter at the Breakfast Table)

I have been handed the task 
of turning my response to your painting 
Mrs Mounter at the Breakfast Table 
into poetry. 

And, you see, this is not easy. 
I have always been one to interact with the thing 
not the story, and while this seems to be 
like looking at the glass instead of out the window, 
it is the gift I was given and I employ it as best I can. 

So first I want to ask you - 
how does this make you feel? 
Pleased, I would suspect. After all, artists crave 
validation via an audience - an addictive feedback loop, 
as any whacked-out junkie will tell you, right before 
they lift your wallet for the next hit. 

Next, I fear I must say your clever technique 
of 'sound and solid pigment' reeks of Photoshop 
Superpunch, something you won't understand. 
Yet it inserts itself between myself and the painting 
nonetheless. 

And that I viewed it online (again, you won't 
understand) thus rendering mute much of your work. 
You should be horrified. The strokes, the size, 
the light that strikes just right - ting! These are all 
important parts of the thing I was denied. 
How do you feel? 

And Mr HJW Gilman, I think I must 
let you know, I don't care much about Mrs Mounter. 
But then, neither did you. She's a tool, 
a bridge, a springboard that you used 
to move your vision into ours. 

(Do you like all those image-heavy words? 
It's how we poets do what you do with paint) 

Just like I am using you. 

As for my response 
to Mrs Mounter at the Breakfast Table, 
it makes me.... sad?

Containing Eden

A drystone dyke holds the garden taut 
lest the winds blow it out to sea. Little grows 
easy here – daffodils, lupins, roses.

Things that do are worked over and over 
into flowerbeds, rock gardens, tyre planters
painted white. A crub is kept for kale. 

Weeds are removed to bare brown earth, 
treasured in this land of bogs, ditches, peat. 
And sand, for always the sea threatens. 

It is a simple colour palette, bound
to a patch of order. All gardens here 
are a variation on this, with no wonder 

for lifetimes rived hand-over-fist from nature 
that fights back leaves its mark. Each garden 
says here I am, I’m still here. By the door 

a sheepdog is cürious and 

                                            in ditches and bogs 

                        weeds grow and 
                                                            a onkerry 
                                                                    
                                                                        o halliget colour 
                                        abounds



Dyke – wall
Crub – circular drystone enclosure for growing cabbages (kale)
Rived – torn
Cürious – anxious (not as in English curious)
Onkerry – a disturbance, a riot (lit: a carry on)
Halliget – wild, unrestrained 

Sjusamillabakka

This voice is between the shore
and the ebb, though the body that houses it 
paces streets hedged by trees and parked cars, 
and the lips that cast it forth pay their dues 
to polite society.
 
Sjusamillabakka, where liquid words shoal, 
swell, crest edges; ending, beginning,
ending, beginning.
 
This voice sounds like any other 
round about here, unless some
residual ripples carry through.
Perhaps you can't hear it.
Or feel the storm surge
as the mother wave
builds up behind
this voice.



Sjusamillabakka – between the shore and the ebb 
(Shetland Tabu, language of fishermen)

Mother wave – wave that seeks land, bringing fishermen safely home. 
(Known as the Moder-dy in Shetland)



Maxine Rose Munro is a Shetlander adrift on the outskirts of Glasgow. After spending the first eighteen years of her life exclusively on the islands, without even a small break for the holidays, the culture shock experienced on eventually seeing the wider world rocked her to the core, and is still rocking now. However, as the end result appears to be poetry, she’s fairly ok with this. Her poetry has been widely published both in print and online, exhibited at Stanza Poetry Festival, shortlisted for the SMHAFF Awards, and nominated for both the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She runs First Steps in Poetry feedback programme, which offers beginner poets free feedback and support. www.maxinerosemunro.com




3 poems by Maxine Rose Munro : “This, my most honest of poems”, “Babel”, & “On a hillside,”

This, my most honest of poems

I wish I was like you, not
as simile but as metaphor
– as an 'I am' type thing. 

Not because of your tall
which juts above my short
when I am juxtaposed with you.

I will not compare and contrast
our hair, noses, mouths, your hands
that enclose mine.

I'm satisfied with my physical body:
all that's lumpy, scraggy, wobbly,
and, yes, even my strange, way too-long toes.

But I envy you your emotions,
the way your head and heart hear
what each has to say.

Never does one drown out the other,
or sulk in silence. You always say
only what you mean.

And you mean everything
with the words you use.
You are perfectly composed.

Like I made this poem to be,
like I myself want to be
but never am.


Babel

I watch them skim, lizards
almost the colour of my mother's panstik,
twitch-jerk among crumbled dirt

also shaded lizard. The lizards look
and move unlike anything I've seen. Fast,
faster than the eye can measure,

but still it seems in my grasp
to speak with them, as if we could
commune as one,

shared ancestry loosening our tongues,
letting us laugh together, swop tales
of differing views of a same world.

Later, my toddler daughter will stumble
into a shelf of milk, a bottle will fall,
tumble to shop floor spilling out everything,

and I will be unable
to make myself understood
to the French shopkeeper.

On a hillside,

bed-time approaching, a child sits
in a garden deep inside of memory,
loans me her ears. I hear

sea waves that come
                                               and go,

a bumble bee I know is tied to there
and then, but its toilsome droning
could be any other bee
                                                   just to listen to it,

and echoes, there are echoes

for every sound

             there's another
                                 just behind it/slightly
                                      overlapping it,


boys in dinghies ahoy to each other
                                   hear themselves answer
before they're prepared

a heart beats twice          breath goes in
                                                                  and out


a gull's cry sounds so close           just over there
then   

there, it stretches back out to its own echo,

nothing ever ends,

the tide turns again, echoes
are calling me home.


Bio: Maxine Rose Munro is a Shetlander adrift on the outskirts of Glasgow. She writes in both English and her native Shetlandic Scots, and is widely published in the UK and beyond, both
in print and online, including in Acumen; Ink, Sweat and Tears; and Southlight. Find her here
www.maxinerosemunro.com


2 poems by Maxine Rose Munro in Fevers of the Mind Poets of 2020


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