Maggie Mackay takes the reader on journeys, where everything takes its place with magic and mystery, whether in Ceasg’s Ghazal a mermaid of Scottish folklore, or the ‘girlie-girls’ on a bus, to Humphry Davy finding pleasure in inhaling nitrous oxide gas. In this marvellous cabinet-of-curiosities of a collection, there is a polecat as mother ‘wielding an iron, as a wife might, pressing office-shirts’ or shepherds with ‘sea salt in their beards’, as the poet inhabits the skins of the strangest of creatures. Here is a poet writing with a wild music, with energy and passion, in a sensuous and entertaining celebration of a book.
Deborah Alma Poet, editor and founder of The Poetry Pharmacy.
A West Coast Psalter is vivid with piercing, moving details and vibrant characters. Just as the opening image's sheets balloon "like tides, like sails”, these poems transport the reader across the world and through history, inviting us into childhood memories, wonder-filled glimpses of nature and the knack of many trades and crafts. The lines are alive with breath-taking imagery, atmospheric tones and beautiful, joyous and energetic yet controlled sounds and emotions. Like the suitcase in Sisters’ Song, Maggie Mackay’s poetry “brims with stories | and cotton, needles and threads” that invite us to “keek around the door into dawn’s blether” and other varied landscapes and lives. “Waves on waves linger beyond |the curved earth”, and beyond the narrative arcs and striking gathering of poems in this rich selection. Mackay’s A West Coast Psalter is a fabulous debut collection and a distinctive, unforgettable read.'
S.A.Leavesley (Sarah James) Editor, V Press, poet, playwright and fiction writer.
A West Coast Psalter is one of those magical collections in which the personal and the geographical combine seamlessly to create a clear, striking narrative of home. There are women here; women who climb up from their own history, over the rocks and waves of their ancestral landscape, speaking with the rhythms of their past to seize their future. And these are not sentimental poems, these are crafted, careful, evocative poems in which Mackay brings the full weight of her skill as a poet. Throughout this collection a sense of being rooted wrestles with the desire to fly away and in the middle of it all: home, hearth, the warmth of kith and kin against the cold night. This is a collection I will return to.
Wendy Pratt Poet, playwright, freelance writer.