Saturday, November 27, 2010

I can't remember the last time we saw snow here in November but as I type it's a veritable blizzard outside!

The new issue of Northwords Now is available to read online (as are the previous issues) and I'm so pleased to have some poems in it along with Colin Will, Elisabeth Rimmer, Jim Carruth and Norman MacCaig no less!! I haven't had a chance yet to read through it properly but it looks like a really great issue with an interesting selection of poems, prose, essays and reviews.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pictures, for a change!

For once, I grapped the camera while heading out for a walk yesterday. Rubbish day for taking pictures - dull mid-afternoon with a bitterly cold breeze!

But I wanted to show you my beloved Firth of Clyde which features in so many of my poems and which I love looking at regardless of the weather. These two pictures are looking down the Clyde; the islands of Cumbrae and Bute are faint lines on the horizon.

This is our Victorian pier, the photo is looking up the Firth where the water slips to the left to become the Holy Loch and slips around to the right, curving past Greenock and making its way all the way up to Glasgow.
This picture looks directly across the Firth to Inverkip, and these are the Gantocks, the infamous rocks that have been the cause of many a shipwreck and which you can hear the seals howl from at night. I wrote a poem about the Gantocks which can be read here.

and here are my travelling companions, Ruby all wrapped up in her pram and Sorley begging for a shot of the camera, but I didn't fancy fishing it out of the water!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Currently reading The Silver Bough and loving it!

Most of you will have heard of James George Frazer's hugely influential book The Golden Bough, acknowledged by Yeats, Eliot, WCW, Pound, Lawrence and many others as deeply important to their work.

Well The Silver Bough is also written by a Scot. First published in 1956 and authored by F. Marian (no less!) McNeill, it explores Scottish folklore and folk belief and is packed with treasures, local stories, etymology of place-names, history, history of religion and religious and Druidic practices. Also full of gorgeous words like 'skeely' and 'gowpens' as in from this short extract:

"In Orkney, sea-water was used in a rite to bring butter. The skeely woman, or charmer, went to the shore with a pail and waited until nine waves had rolled in. At the reflux of the last, she took three gowpens of water (a gowpen is as much as can be held in cupped hands) and carried them home in her pail. The water was put into the churn with the milk and ensured a good supply of butter."
I love all the folklore from Lewis, the stories are link to my ancestors. I remember when I was a child there used to be a 'fairy well' on the beach near my grandparents house in Lewis. I used to search it out on my holidays, a little circle of stones on a huge Atlantic beach where fresh water bubbled up from under the ground.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Books, books, books...

I'm a slow poetry book reader, it takes me months and longer to digest a collection, re-reading it, thinking on the poems, letting them work on me consciously and unconsciously.
As well as many other books, I've been thinking on Robin Robertson's collection The Wrecking Light and Phillis Levin's May Day over the last while. I've also been reading Songs the Lightning Sang, a pamphlet by Geoff Cooper. Pages of online poetry that I have on my favourites bar at the moment are Plath (saves digging the book out all the time!), D H Lawrence, and Baudelaire.

Next month is birthday month and these are the books on my hit list: -
Identity Parade the controversial new anthology from Bloodaxe of new British and Irish poets
Plath's Ariel - the one with the poems in the order Plath intended, I've been meaning to get it for ages.
A Les Murray collection, there are so many that I haven't decided which one to go for.
The Wild Iris by American poet Louise Gluck
Blood Wedding and Yerma, two plays by Lorca
Horse Latitudes by Paul Muldoon
The Return by Eleanor Cooke
The gorgeous looking Venti, a poetry pamphlet by JoAnne MacKay
The also gorgeous looking collection The Lost Garden by Hugh MacMillan
And some more pamphlet poetry which I haven't picked out yet.
That's all, I think...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Saturday, November 06, 2010

First draft -

You come to me, Burnie MacKinnon,

(post removed)

Monday, November 01, 2010