poemof the moment
Must the knife continue to clean out guts, bones, brains until filetted of emotion and female pride
about the poem
When Tessa Ransford was writing in the 1970s, she was one of only a very few women being published in Scotland. This Thursday we host an event that examines the emergence of women poets in the 1970s. Critic Glenda Norquay discusses the ascent of Scottish female poets and Liz Lochhead shares her memories of her early days.
Image: Plaza de Lugo fishmonger (18) by Canon, under a Creative Commons licence
poem chosen by…
In this poem, Ransford's deep regard for the dignity of the individual reveals itself: a woman gutting fish in a fishmonger’s buries her “raw nose and starting eyes in a rough roller towel”. Tessa ponders the woman’s future, wondering if she has “no escape from this catch” until eventually she too will be “flat, cold on the slab”. The poem is a delicately observed moment of ordinariness and somehow the unflinching gaze lifts it, and the woman, out of the ordinary.
‘No one has done more for the cause of poetry in Scotland than Tessa Ransford’ asserted Dorothy McMillan in the Scottish Review of Books in 2008, and indeed it is hard to imagine what contemporary poetry in Scotland would be like without the Scottish Poetry Library, the School of Poets, the Callum Macdonald Poetry Pamphlet Memorial Award and a host of other projects, all initiated and nurtured by Ransford.