Monday, March 15, 2010


I don't feel so jealous about those of you who are heading up to St. Andrews for StAnza 2010 now that I can snuggle up with my lovely signed copy of Robin Robertson's latest collection, The Wrecking Light.

I went to the Don Paterson / Robin Robertson reading on Saturday and it was great. I have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to Paterson's work, it just doesn't really do it for me. Which is odd because he's one of the foremost influential and accoladed poets of our times, and he's Scottish! So I feel I'm really missing out on something.

Robertson, on the other hand, with his dark, surreal but exact, open-ended poems laden with myths, symbols and landscapes, I find inspiring.
I did enjoy Paterson's reading and he came across as a really nice person. But the poem I enjoyed of his the most he attributed Robertson as a major influence in the writing of it!

The reading was in the beautiful Mitchell Library, the same room where, on Thursday night, I read two of my poems as part of the open mic event. I wasn't nervous about reading but I did forget to breathe properly so that by the middle of the first poem I was running out of breath! During the second poem I had to deliberately concentrate on breathing and the reading of it was much easier. I think it takes the first couple of poems to get into the flow of reading your work, I noticed that Robertson didn't look at the audience once while reading his first poem but after that he seemed to relax into a rhythm of reading.

At the book signing when I asked Robertson who his influences are, he mentioned Geoffrey Hill whom I've come across here and there but never really read properly. Now I'm curious to read more to see what way he has influenced Robertson.

17 comments:

Rachel Fox said...

We can't all enjoy everyone's work so I wouldn't worry about your DP blindspot. On the other hand I know that frustration...wondering what it is that other people see/hear/get from a particular writer that you just don't. You want to call out 'why does everyone else think this is good?' But you don't...because that might attract the wrong kind of attention...
x

Sorlil said...

that's exactly it, rachel!

Titus said...

Really interesting, sorlil. I'm going to check out Robertson now.

Well done on the Open Mic! I wanted to go, but husband on wrong shift. Would have been good to meet you, and hear you.

Sorlil said...

would have been really nice to meet you!! would have been nice to have someone there that I knew as well - could tell there were a lot of folk from local writers groups who all knew each other...and then there was lonesome me!!!

Titus said...

Aw! I could have got the big two to come and support you (both at Uni in Glasgow).

Sorlil said...

I'm sure they would have loved that request!!

Dave King said...

I'm with Rachel. Enjoy what you can and make of it what you can. There's just too much for any one soul to digest.

James Owens said...

I have to agree with Rachel and Dave. Not everything that others like is going to appeal to you -- and, since there is truly more really good poetry out there than anyone can possibly read, it's best to live with those poems that speak to you deeply and let the others go their way.... I have some blind spots like that, too. Can't stand John Ashberry, for example -- though some poets I like a great deal cite him as a major influence. De gustibus non est disputandum (if I am remembering my little Latin with any accuracy).

On Geoffrey Hill ... I have mixed feelings. His earlier books are wonderful, I think. But then, he has disowned those books, and for the past twenty years has written obscure, intentionally difficult poems that are, I believe, more than a bit pompous...

Michelle said...

I would've loved to have been at the reading, Sorlil. I'm loving The Wrecking Light. It's on my bedside table at the moment. Have you read his previous collection, Swithering? It's one of my favourites.

Sorlil said...

I think you are right, dave, and I will!

hi james, with the help of google (sad eh?!) I translated your Latin and I agree, personal taste has a lot to do with it. I am curious about both Ashberry and Hill, so many polarised views on them but it's hard to know where to start. maybe I'll pick up a selected on each of them sometime.

hi michelle, I borrowed Swithering from the library before I went to the reading and absolutely loved it. I'll definitely be buying it and his previous collections when I get the chance. His reading was fantastic, I just closed my eyes and listened as he conjured up his beautiful images and dark mysteries. He read some poems from Swithering, the gorgeous 'Swimming in the Woods' for one.

The first poem he read ended mid-flow in suspense, something about looking closer to see what something was?? Anyway I loved it but sadly can't find it in The Wrecking Light or Swithering.

sunnydunny said...

We've definitely all got our blind spots - but I like both Robertson and Paterson in their very different ways. And I love the Mitchell Library. When I was studying librarianship (1964-1965) I used it most evenings.

Sorlil said...

The Mitchell library is great! If I'd realised how easy it is to get there from Central Station I would have gone there a lot when I was studying in Glasgow. They've got loads of good stuff on-line also - I was looking through the old photos of the Glasgow slums the other day, could spend all day day looking through them.

Michelle said...

Sorlil, don't you love 'By Clachan Bridge' on page 6 of The Wrecking Light? It's one of my favourites so far.

swiss said...

not jealous eh? i'll remember that when i'm hanging out with seamus this afternoon. anything you want me to ask him? ; )

Sorlil said...

he read that one, michelle, slowly and deeply, I was pretty gobsmacked by it. I also really like About Time (p15) and Widow's Walk (p82).

swiss, yes, ask him to come back next year!

Rachel Fox said...

Hanging out with Seamus? Swiss was wandering the streets of St A's when I saw him this afternoon...
x

Sorlil said...

aah, the lovely streets of St Andrews, looking forward to reading all your stanza blog posts!