Ian McDonough
Biographical Note

Ian McDonough was born and brought up in Brora on the East Coast of Sutherland, and began to be interested in literature in school when he was made to clear out a book cupboard as a punishment for insubordination.

His poem sequence “A Rising Fever” was published in pamphlet form by Kettilonia in 2000, and in the same year he was commissioned by the Engineering and Science Research Council and Strathclyde University to produce a series of poems on particle physics.

His first play “51 Pegasus” toured Scotland in 2003 and around the same time his first full-length poetry collection “Clan MacHine”, published by Chapman, was shortlisted for Saltire Scottish First Book of the Year.

His third collection “The Vanishing Hitchhiker” was published by Mariscat in early 2007 and his latest collection from the same publisher, A Witch Among The Gooseberries was published in 2014 and was runner-up for the 2015 Callum Macdonald Memorial Award.

A former Convenor of Shore Poets, he lives in Edinburgh with his partner and daughter. He’s also Manager of the Scottish Community Mediation Centre.

Jesus in the Woods

I used to think that Jesus lived
in the woods, with leaves
in his hair, his bare brown feet
padding swiftly
along secret, shaded paths.

I thought if I could sneak down
from my room
to the midnight forest
I would hear him singing psalms
as he ran through the trees
executing one miracle after another.

When I learned from my teacher
that he lived in a land
of dust and sand and stone I felt sorry
for the trees – and for Jesus too.
But mostly for myself, knowing that
from now on, my midnight
would be quieter,
so much less interesting.

Still, in the wind-blown early hours,
I sometimes hear, among
the sighing of the rowan and the birch,
quick footsteps,
a snatch of holy song.

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