Poetry Archive Now Wordview 2020: How to Distill a Guid Scotch Malt

Wrap yourself in Mum’s dressing gown, its envelope-hug,

pour a dram of uisge beatha, sip peppery Talisker peat.


Hear the barley grain grind in the mill, conjure a mash in the steel tun,

a flow into the wash, stroked by hushes and baloo baleerie.


Gloamings on salty coastlines, sweet kiln smoke, skin oil grams,

cloud the floor of the tumbler, climb the sides, pull you into the cask.


Acids blend with ethanol, transform into esters, fruity and aromatic.

A Hebridean sunset copper-pots your tongue, biscuit-beaches rise in your throat.


There’s a nip in the air, a lifetime of goodnights fermenting in a kipper fire.

Her arm entwines in yours. She comes home, full flavoured.


Task begun, the heart of the run is now, my middle years of fear and longing.

Recording provided as part of Poetry Archive Now: Wordview 2020. Used by permission of the author.

Poetry Archive Now Wordview 2020 Winners

Welcome to the Poetry Archive Now! WordView 2020 Collection. For the first time the Archive opened its doors wide to poets from around ...

See the collection

Maggie Mackay

Maggie Mackay loves family history which she incorporates into work in print and online journals. She is a Poetry Masters graduate of The Writing School, Manchester Metropolitan University. Her pamphlet ‘The Heart of the Run’ is published by Picaroon Poetry and her full collection, ‘A West Coast Psalter’ will be out in March 2021. She is a reviewer for https://www.sphinxreview.co.uk/.


A special thank you to our WordView 2020 poets.

Chair of the Judging Panel, Imtiaz Dharker, says: “The hundreds of entries we received blew in to the Archive like a breath of pure, unpolluted air from all over the world, revealing something of the time we are living in, some telling it straight, some slant. It was exciting to check in to the Poetry Archive’s Youtube channel every morning and come upon one unexpected voice after another."

See the collectionWatch the full Wordview 2020 playlist