More Richly in Earth: A Poet’s Search for Mary MacLeod, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2024.

More Richly in Earth is a compelling exploration of the mystery of a 17th century Scottish Gaelic bard and her intersection with a Canadian poet

Important in the Gaelic world in Canada, as in Scotland, Mary MacLeod was widely honoured, especially by singers and poets; yet she was also marginalised, exiled, and even denigrated as a witch. Exiled because she wrote as well as for what she wrote, Mary stepped out of the approved roles of her era to preserve truths about deep culture and the role of women in it as Gaelic Scotland was reconfigured by colonisation.

More Richly in Earth is the story of what brought her into the life of the Canadian poet and novelist, Marilyn Bowering. Bowering’s quest to unravel the nature of their connection and the puzzle of radically different accounts of Mary’s life and work becomes an exploration of the richness of cross-culture affinity despite differences of language, history, time, and place. Bowering brings a poetic sensibility to her journeys in the Hebrides and her conversations with poets and scholars, weaving in accounts of the Newfoundland grandmother who shaped her thinking and the west coast landscape in which she grew and made her home.

Vocation, age, commitment to poetic thinking and Bowering’s rigorous research draw these two poets together in an act of recovery and restoration as Bowering recounts stories preserved within landscape, memory, and identity. More Richly in Earth is not only investigative scholarship, but a profound reflection on the necessity of art.

from the readers’ reports: … a lovely, compelling contribution to our knowledge, awareness, and understanding of Mary and, perhaps most especially, to the potential for beauty and power within connections to the past …to the hidden stories within landscape; or to ourselves, and the layers of memory, feeling, and identity which are still always within our reach … it will have immense appeal to general readers with interests in Scottish history and culture, especially Highlands and Islands; in untold and marginalised histories of women; and in reflective nature and landscape writing. It also points to some connections between Mary’s work, context, and culture and issues of deep resonance within our present moment (indigenous rights; the environmental crisis; understanding of the complexity of personal identity more broadly) … it is beautifully written, with a striking combination of lucidity and depth.