On Irish Poets Writing in Scotland

Peter Mackay



Starting from the polyglot work of the Dublin-born and Skye-based Rody Gorman, who writes in Scottish and Irish Gaelic, English and his own invented translation of “intertonguing,” this essay explores recent poetic connections between the two countries through readings of Irish poets who live or have lived in Scotland: the Gaelic and Irish peregrinations of David Wheatley, and the “minoritized diasporic” position of poets in English such as Alan Gillis, Miriam Gamble, and Aoife Lyall. It discusses ways in which these poets engage with dislocation, linguistic multiplicity, the risks of being absorbed into a new environment, and the possibility of flitting – Sweeneylike – between places, literatures, and trees. It ends with a focus on the diasporic Gaelic writing of Niall O’Gallagher, and how he negotiates his Irish inheritance. There is an unexpected focus on bodybuilding, birds, and moths; on people being transformed into dolphins; and an unregretful Columba cheerily leaving Ireland behind.


Irish poetry, Scottish poetry, Sweeney, transformations, cianalas, poetic resistance, feathers




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