First read 'Every Month' under a reassuringly cold blanket of Highland stars whilst co-tutoring an Arvon course at Moniack Mhor with Kevin. It's one of the most powerful poems I've ever read, a sentiment which the positive feedback I've had about it since putting it on the site backs up. It's therefore a priviledge to be premiering poem, 'Menstrual Unchameleon'
Kevin MacNeil is an award-winning writer of poetry and prose. He was born and raised on the Isle of Lewis and recently worked on a Writing Fellowship at Uppsala University, Sweden. His first poetry collection won the prestigious Tivoli Europa Giovani International Poetry Prize (2000), (see review in Books.) MacNeil frequently collaborates with artists and musicians and is a founder member of the trip-hop poetry band Tommorrowscope. His work has been translated into ten languages. Michael Palin is one of his greatest fans
KEVIN'S FAVOURITE WRITERS
Click image to visit the excellent new Joyce website of R L Callaghan of Temple University; for Michael Groden's excellent 'James Joyce's Ulysses an electronic presentation of Joyce's Ulysses' site, featuring: verbal, visual and audio representations of the book, click here; to visit the website of the James Joyce Centre in Dublin, click here or for related items on Amazon, click here ANNE MICHAELS
Click image for Anne Michaels website, run by the University of Toronto; to read Charlie Cho's interview with Michaels, click here; to read her poem, 'Turning Twenty-Three on Torque.net website, click here or to view 'Fugitive Pieces' on Amazon, click here VIRGIL
For text and background essays on Virgil and his work on the Virgil Homepage, click image; to listen to Wilfried Stroh read Book IV of The Aeneid in Latin on the Wired for Books website, click here; to read the English translation of the Aeneid on the University of Oregon website, click here or to view The Aeneid on Amazon, click here
Click image to read an interview with Baricco on the New Yorker website; to listen to Baricco read his work to a musical accompaniment by the band, Air, click here; to read a excerpt from Baricco's novel 'City' on the Randon House website, click here or to view 'Silk' on Amazon, click here
For a short biography of Akutagawa and excerpts from 'A Fool's Life, click image; for a selection of translations of Akutagawa's work, click here; to read a translation of Akutagawa's 'In a Grove,' click here or to view 'The Essential Akutagawa' with a foreword by Jorge Luis Borges on Amazon, click here
To read Dagerman's 'To Kill a Child,' click image; for a selection of articles on Dagerman and his work, click here; for a selected biography of Dagerman on the Little Blue Light website, click here or to view 'The Games of Night' on Amazon, click here
TO READ MORE ABOUT KEVIN, TRY THESE LINKS
Visit the brand new official Kevin MacNeil homepage HERE
Read Kevin's brilliant interview with himself on the BBC Ideas Factory website HERE
Short biography of Kevin on Canongate website HERE
'Love, Zen and Writing' - an interview with Kevin MacNeil from the Maltese Sunday Times HERE
Two poems by Kevin on the Poetry Kit magazine website HERE
'Why Gaelic's about more than haggis' - Kevin's Herald article on the Gaelic language HERE
DISCLAIMER - Some images used in ths site have been sent to me to use. If there is anything from your own site and you have not given consent, then please email me and I will gladly give you credit or remove the images from the site. No violation of copyright is intended
'MENSTRUAL UNCHAMELEON' by Kevin MacNeil
As a girl, I bit you for being blankfaced
spacesuit visors, loved spit-flicking your taste
onto massive carpets, a doll’s fallen moon,
crescents of pale bone itchingly bestrewn
across barefoot visits to the midnight loo.
So you do connect with my periods due.
And I used to paint you fire-engine red,
siren-loud, wincingly attractive to every inbred
overhopeful who never quite mastered the utter hotbed
of me. Fingernail flushed, my fountainhead.
If I weep at giddy mishaps, little things
vanish like weight loss never to be retrieved,
or I break down in the car of my self-esteem
on the way to the garage for Fry’s chocolate creams,
a glance at my nail varnish will verify
the moon’s on the leech again. Justify
that? I can’t. And so don’t care when Vexed
Violet changes to Self-Centred Silver and undersexed
men sneer, ‘Got the painters in again?’ I flick
dazzling Vs, ‘Painted them myself, geek.’
To wear fickle hearts on your fingertips,
portentous ciphers. Ten successive lunar eclipses
would panic men less. Watch them squirm at my chic
fingernails, rebuffed, cut down, cut to the quick.
'EVERY MONTH' by Kevin MacNeil
Every month her miniature round ghost bleeds in your body.
She was going to be my little Princess, which is why, curled sleeping in the milky white ultrasound scan of my dreamscreen, she wears a petite crown.
Golden, absurd and useless, this crown, I think, is very like hope.
She herself (vague, lucid, fragile, transparent) reminds me of a tear, a pale wee watery bubble that time’s jazz and the freeflowing weather of life would transform into a pure sparkling dancing snowflake, unique and mine and fingerprint perfect.
But this snowflake, like a kiss, turned to lippy red slush. Was that deliberate on your part? For a few pads’ worth of poetry, of lunar blood?
Because you forget something does not mean it didn’t happen.
Do you remember spending the first nine months of your life surrounded by water?
I remember her heart beating like the smallest waves in the smallest pool that never existed.
My little mermaid, coiled like a hug of shell, seahorse-perfect; she was murdered.
She is always with me, my daughter, whose trusting gaze and unheld hand are an invisible jigsaw, whose breath is the questioning silence on the answer machine, whose mouth is the unkissed stamp on the condolence card no one knows to send.
ULYSSES - James Joyce: I don't use the word genius very often, but this is truly a work of genius. And very funny, too, as it's loaded with great puns and sly humour. A book so far ahead of its time I shake my head in wonder at Joyce's brilliance.
FUGITIVE PIECES - Anne Michaels: My favourite book of recent times. I always strive in my prose to reach the intensity of poetry...Anne Michaels was a poet before she published this novel, which took her ten years to write. It's flawless.
THE AENEID - Virgil: I love Italy! I studied Latin for a long time - and for the Latin 'O' Grade me and my classmates (any of you reading this?) had to memorise most of Book IV. I'm putting lots of references to Book IV of The Aeneid in the novel I'm currently writing, Singing for the Blue Men. It's probably very unfashionable to be into Latin literature these days, but just call me unconventional.
SILK - Alessandro Baricco: Some of my Italian friends tell me Baricco isn't rated all that highly among Italian writers, but this brief novel is almost word-perfect, even in translation. It's a beautiful story. I saw this book described memorably as a haiku in novel form.
A FOOL'S LIFE - Ryunosuke Akutagawa: Akutagawa is probably most famous for the influential film version of his short story 'Rashomon', but he was a tremendously prolific writer with very varied writing styles at his command. He had a fascinating, but tragic, life and this book is his lyrical autobiography, which he wrote shortly before he killed himself. Someone should write a biography about him.
THE GAMES OF NIGHT - Stig Dagerman: I recently spent a year living in Sweden, working as British Council writer in residence at Uppsala University and Dagerman is one of many Swedish writers I admire. His story 'To Kill A Child' is unquestionably one of the most powerful short stories I have read.