Bourtree 2006 - £4.50

Maureen Sangster’s Menopausal Bedtime Rhymes won her this year’s Callum Macdonald Memorial Award given annually “to recognise publishing skill and effort” in the field of poetry pamphlets. Unusually these days, her collection, subtitled ‘poems in Scots and English’, was funded in part by subscriptions and sponsors. It’s a publication likely to appeal to more than the usual purchasers of poetry—glossy cover with arresting artwork, numerous illustrations by the poet, all the poems short or at least not long, making for easy and amusing reading. If a few poems (they are all untitled) are rather throwaway, some work nicely as nonsense verse. There is indeed something of the nursery rhyme about this:


A buttery buttery full moon

Is there in the derk nicht sky

An I think on cream

An I think on a spoon

An a man who is traivellin by, by

An a man who is traivellin by.


The Scots, where it is employed, is Sangster’s native Scots of the North East, and as the title signals, the poems (if one wants to be pedantic: not all are ‘rhymes’) are about, or in the voices of, women menopausal or thereabouts, and the subject matter covers hormones, aging and love—taking in the odd sheik, friendly fjord and grubby kitchen along the way. Mostly the tone is humorous or at least wry; however, a sharpness in some of the verses, and a wistfulness in others touches on something deeper. The collection finishes on this note:


Daft with love, she thought—

                           At my age?

And she took up the hedge trimmer

And made the image of the man

She loved and who loved her

In topiary. At her age!

At her age.


Eleanor Livingstone



Available from the author (price includes UK postage) at 101 Harcourt Road, Kirkcaldy, KY2 5HE, or online from the Scottish Poetry Library Shop



The Common Reader says of Menopausal Bedtime Rhymes:


This is a delightful collection with mostly short and witty poems about the various difficulties which affect women of a certain age.  I thought it might be a bit depressing because as far as I’m aware there’s nothing funny about the menopause.  But the writer manages to bring lots of humour:


          menopausal weemin

          shud they drink beer?

          I widna advise it

          they’ve flushes tae fear


Women who are menopausal will love it. Men will loathe it or perhaps pinch it when the wife’s not around and try to make sense of it. Nah, that’s never gonna work. It’s a perfect gift for a menopausal woman.