The Gaelic Garden of the Dead is three Books of the Dead bound as one. This trilogy comprises an alphabet of trees spoken as witness to a Highland hanging, ten pattern poetry dream diagrams and thirty-five death sonnets deconstructed to Mary Queen of Scots.

   "‘Violent and formal’ - the phrase is John Berryman’s - in a language both lupercal and arboreal, MacGillivray’s The Gaelic Garden Of The Dead is magnificent. It is neither violent or formal for its own sake, but rebels against complacent, lyrical histories in voices compressed to a haunting and haunted diamond precision. What vivid strangeness, for instance, to hear again the unsung recusant poet, Mary Queen of Scots, in our secular millennium? The chromatic lines balance splendidly on the razor-edge between imaginary and real time, making her a high modernist in the tradition of her great voice-walkers and forebears Burns, Scott, and MacDiarmid. You are holding in your hands a spell of sibylline leaves."

                           - Ishion Hutchinson, poet.

Published by Bloodaxe Books, February 21st, 2019.

The Gaelic Garden of the Dead

   "MacGillivray’s poems come at us with one language wearing the pelt of another, and in the affray that follows it is hard to tell whether dead or living mouth carries the fiercer bite. Blood-boltered, thrawn and unco, her work is a Samhain of unexorcised historical memory, ventriloquized with the ‘cognition of bone’. Here the blasted landscapes of the pre-forgotten present give way to the richer patternings of the tree alphabet, all under the sovereignty of our highland Orpheus, the executed Mary Queen of Scots. Not since Sorley MacLean hymned the woods of Raasay have the ghosts of the Gaelic past bestrode the present more imperiously."

     - David Wheatley, poet & Guardian critic


   "The Nine of Diamonds is so far from the usual poetry collection that it may not win prizes. But it could achieve cult status."

       - Claire Crowther, Magma 67, 2017

   "The Nine of Diamonds overflows . . . its project is nothing less than a Scots modernist epic poem, an attempt to encapsulate Scots traditions, language and politics as Frederico Garcia Lorca did for Andalusia."

      - Sophie Mayer, The Poetry Review,

              Vol I07, No. 1 Spring, 2017


   "Occulted, fire-warped, close-stitched in freshly butchered skin, MacGillivray's keening rant is prophecy, hot and plain. A sequence of cards dealt in the wake of shamanic seizures that happen, and happen again, only because the poet insists on their ghostly witness. Here are songs of fierce tenderness and subtle cruelty. They sting in salt like a Highland curse. I relish every breath of the fall and crush." - Iain Sinclair

   Using a kaleidoscope, a deck of tarot cards and an 1895 Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, The Nine of Diamonds is influenced by French Surrealism and opens with the Gaelic visionary practice of inducing visions behind a waterfall. Treating the Highlands as a Gaelic garden, the rebels on the run as herds of deer, and the preservation of Gaelic culture as a type of sugar-cured mummification, The Nine of Diamonds is set in a phantasmagoric landscape described in the Scots of Henryson and Dunbar but evoking Scots Gaelic concepts and motifs to mix Highland and Lowland experience with magical and occult terminology.


Published by Bloodaxe Books, 20th October, 2016.


Published by Red Hen Press, Los Angeles. First edition 2013 (Pighog, Brighton), second imprint, 2017.

   In September 2017, Norrie raised funds through generous support from Kickstarter donors to record Ernie LaPointe, Sitting Bull's great grandson reading from 'The Last Wolf of Scotland' and in discussion about its Lakota contexts as well as the fictitious aspects of the scalping. The record is available to listen to and purchase HERE.


   "The Last Wolf of Scotland is a hallucinatory road-trip through Scottish and North American history and language, a bizarre and glorious mash-up of multiple iconographies, with 19th century colonists turning up in 18th century epics and 20th century movies. It exhaustively maps a sprawling Scottish imaginary, one both peculiar to the artist and of significant and often-forgotten historical resonance. MacGillivray dissects – or, rather, bloodily explodes – the ways we make national history in myth and language."


                  - Harry Josephine Giles, poet

   "There are not many books of poetry that can be considered genuinely original and large in scope, even among the disputed ground of 'innovative writing' there is little that is truly groundbreaking. Reading The Last Wolf of Scotland, however, I feel I may have found just that sort of book."

         - Steven Waling, Magma Review 32


   "This is the essay form infused with flame and dream. With Arielish deftness and in bewitching language, Kirsten Norrie leads us among the ghosts of a Scottish multiverse of songlines, slander, catwalks and curses. She is an inspired advocate for James Macpherson, the critically misunderstood, and drapes Jim Morrison in the talking winds of the Highlands, relighting his famous lyrics via transdimensional séance. These are screeds from a Scotland vast as imagination and infinitely influential. Here the lost, the scalped and the self-slain are vaunted, re-met and revivified. Here the veil between the spirit-world and our own is shown up for nothing, perhaps, but a trick of slanted light." - Damian Le Bas, author of 'The Stopping Places', Chatto & Windus, 2018.


   The imaginative flights, artistic struggles, and untimely deaths of some brilliant Scots, from Sir Walter Scott to Alexander McQueen. In grunge and tartan, sideshow and magic lantern, Scottish Lost Boys presents Scotland as place and Scotland as idea in the imaginative flights, artistic struggles, and untimely deaths of a singular skeleton leaf clan.

   Clan mythologists James McPherson and the Sobieski Stuart brothers; childhood scalping-survivor Robert McGee; fashion suicide Alexander McQueen; wolf-hunter Ernest Thompson Seton; film actor Jon Whiteley and director Bill Douglas and fantasy novelist George MacDonald: all these brilliant boys, wrapped in tartans of the imagination, encountered lostness as a betrayal of self or misguided acts of misadventure that fueled their art and identities.

   These Scottish Lost Boys are Wild West protagonists, 1700s literary stars, shadow skin cutters, and cinematic murderers, all interwoven with J. M. Barrie's themes of lostness, immortality, and myth within a Scottish context - the afterlife of fairy, skin, and shadow.

Available from Blackwell's and all good bookshops, March, 2020.

Publisher: MIT

Imprint: Strange Attractor Press

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For nonfiction enquiries please contact Jonathan Clowes Literary Agency

For poetry enquiries please contact Bloodaxe Books

© 2018 Kirsten Norrie

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