Translating Mountains is the Mslexia prize-winning pamphlet from Yvonne Reddick. The poems are multi-layered compositions. They tell of grief for a beloved father as well as a close friend, who both died in mountain-climbing accidents. The author’s own love of mountaineering comes through with her vividly described sections of action: grappling with tie-lines, slopes and ravines, of aspiring to glorious heights while coping with treacherous and changeable weathers.
These poems are also hymns to stunning landscapes, with mountains and place names often in a craggy, atmospheric Gaelic. Full of tension, emotion and action, this writing grips our attention. The author searches for ways to grieve and come to terms with the trauma of her father’s death. She can understand his love of the sport, as she shares this. But bravado and needless risk-taking also rankle with the telling and her devastation is deepened with the death of her friend in the High Andes, perhaps even more tragic as this person was only twenty-two.
The author’s background as an exponent and practitioner of ‘eco-poetry’ gives us a further dimension: we are always aware of the wild landscapes under threat from human action. The mountaineer’s love of risk has its parallels with the perilous risks we are taking with the natural world. Translating Mountains introduces us to a striking new voice in British poetry, with a distinctive Scottish focus.