Maxine Rose Munro

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Maxine Rose Munro

the poet

Maxine Rose Munro is a Shetlander adrift on the outskirts of Glasgow. Her poetry has been published widely, exhibited at the Stanza Poetry Festival, shortlisted for the SMHAFF Awards, and nominated for The Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Maxine runs the First Steps in Poetry feedback programme, which offers beginner poets free feedback and support.

the poems

Finnman

00:00 / 01:44

              My land is a constant, stripped

              by inconstant seas and I should know better:

              allure soon abandons all promise and beauty lies

              like an oily film on your surface.


              I have no use for fortune-tellers spinning

              gaudy futures – tall, dark strangers

              on narrow, isolated islands can't be

              true, but are surely puzzle and paradox.


              False, false man there is as much plastic in your offer

              as silver fishes in the sea. Now you tell me of your

              sunken treasures and hidden depths, but never

              your shifting, treacherous nature.


              I dream of your sea rising to enfold me, cover

              my mouth and stop my breath. I am lost

              and will go with you. But first come close, closer,

              let me see if, like waves meeting land,


              you break against me.

The Finnman is a legend of the Northern Isles. Sometimes he can be benevolent, others he seeks to entice women down to his undersea world, only to turn them into his slaves.

Let me sing a song of love

00:00 / 01:44

              though we both know I'm not romantic.
              Though it could end in embarrassed mumbling
              and staring at our feet. I know I take time
              to get going, and often head off in a confusing direction,

              but just sit, and I'll do my best.
              Let my voice crack, wander between dialects
              like it does when I'm worried I'm an idiot
              putting myself forward for a kicking, a puppy
              wanting to pee all over the floor, shivery
              with terror, anticipating horror. I've written
              the words and rehearsed them a dozen
              different ways but none of them were as right
              as I wanted. It's funny how so very hard it is

              to do this, but let me try. Let me stand up
              before you, not quite look at you, let me
              sing the words I wrote you, edited over and over
              and over again. Let me sing this song –

              I love you.

              I'm glad I found you and no one else.

              Let's live all our lives together.

              There.
              I have sung my song.
              I hope you don't think I got it wrong.
              I hope you feel the same.

Mother Tongue

00:00 / 01:44

              If I were to speak with my mother's tongue

              my words would reach up out of the land,

              rooted deep


              in the language she learned sat at the knees

              of Viking descendants – the soil pressed

              against her bare skin: möld,


              a word that grew in her fertile mouth. To be

              dirty rich was möld-rich. To be nearly buried

              by the drink, möld-drocht.


              Her word for the Earth: Aert. Spoken with

              an ai, a rolling r, and a tih. Compact. Solid.

              And if she were to say


              'from all the earths', well, this was her way

              of saying 'everywhere'. Stuck and grounded,

              both aert-fast.


              And that was how she looked to me, a woman

              who couldn't work with abstracts, their gush,

              their drift from the source.


              But my father, ah now, my father, he was

              one who was soothed by this. His words

              were dreams of the sea.

Publishing credits

Finnman / Let me sing a song of love:

  exclusive first publication by iamb

Mother Tongue: Acumen