Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Have you ever started writing a poem for it to turn into an exercise in mental torture? This is what I've been doing today.
I came across a poetry competition last night, deadline is midnight tomorrow but I thought I'd give it a bash. It's in memory of the Glasgow artist and sculpture Hannah Frank. When I checked out the link I really liked her black and white drawings. So the competition is to write a poem inspired by one of Hannah Frank's drawings. I picked this wonderful drawing:

It's called Moon Ballet.
I've written a good chunk of the poem but just can't seem to bring it together and it's now hurting my head. But there's still tomorrow...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

books, books, books

I recently ordered some poetry pamphlets from Calder Wood Press and now that they've arrived I'm even more excited about my pamphlet next year.
They are beautiful, colourful, sturdy pamphlets printed on gorgeous silky paper.

I've only flicked through them and can't wait for some proper quiet time to read them:
Sky Blue Notebook from the Pyrenees by Jayne Wilding
Local Colour by Judith Taylor
A Hesitant Opening of Parasols by Lilias Scott Forbes

You can read sample poems by them on the Calder Wood Press website.

I also ordered Colin Wills' Sushi & Chips collection (published by Diehard Books but also available through Calder Wood Press) which I'm looking forward to reading.

Finally, swiss has just had his first full-length collection published by Calder Wood Press, I am the happy owner of a copy.

stone and sea is a gorgeous collection of 44 poems which I'll be blogging about in more detail in the future but right now I'm just enjoying.

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.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A poem in memory of the three Russian asylum seekers who jumped to their death from a Glasgow high-rise flat on Sunday morning.

Citizens of the Sky

The morning scent of spring

(post removed)

Friday, March 05, 2010


Apparently in 1992, the UN General Assembly designated the 22nd of March each year as World Water Day!

The Unesco Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science at the University of Dundee are, this year, hosting an online interactive event and other events on that day throughout Dundee. They are looking for links to poems about water. So if you post a water poem on your blog and link to their page they will link to you also (you have to send your link to this email. Thanks to Rachel for the heads-up, check out her three water poems here, plus Colin has one up on his blog here.

Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows that water features very prominantly in my poems, well that's because I live next to the beautiful Firth of Clyde (pictured above)!.

Here's a watery poem of mine which I wrote almost exactly a year ago when I was pregnant with my daughter.


Heliotropism

Waves rise from nowhere
like the water pearl

wrapping its layer
upon layer within
my mantle folds.

A lochan is gathering
its cushiony hold
under my skin,

a sea swelling
in my bones.

The air is fresh with snow
and the faint halo
of a daylight moon.

I’m walking into the light
and wondering,
if like a sunflower,

you’re turning,
heliotropic,
in my womb.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

So in-between the usual daily house/children busyness, today I've been battling with finalizing the line-breaks on a poem to be published in the next Horizon Review. It's finding that balance between how I read the poem, how it looks on the page (screen), and imagining how other folk are going to read it.

I mainly break my lines according to natural pauses when I read it aloud and what I particularly want to emphasize. For a long time (so it seemed to me) I was stuck writing in three-line verses, I found it hard to shake that off. Now I've found a freedom in not keeping to the same number of lines in every stanza but this introduces the problem of when to have a stanza break and how does it look on the page if, for instance, I have a three-liner followed by a two-liner followed by a one-liner!
Anyway, I think (I hope) I got there in the end.

Very much stuck on a poem at the moment, I have plenty imagery and theme but it's not working, I think I'm trying too hard to force it together. So often I feel when starting a poem, from the very first line, that I'm working toward reaching the end of it as quickly as possible so as not to mess it up!

I had the wonderful experience last night of discovering poems by a poet I had not come across before that have completely blown me away. I was randomly listening to poets reading their poems at the Poetry Archive website (a fantastic resource) when I clicked on the name Jean Valentine. The rich imagery, the dream imagery and the tautness of her language appeal to me hugely. I can't wait for a chance to order a book of her poetry.

Monday, March 01, 2010

For any Hughes or Plath fans - Interview with Frieda Hughes on Radio 3's Private Passions, it's available for the next six days. Includes her choice of music from Classical to AC/DC!

I'm listening to it as I write this and it's giving me the shivers, she sounds so like Plath - the same smooth, deep, very articulate voice despite the fact that her accent is quite different.
An artist and poet in her own right, Frieda (isn't that just a lovely name?) Hughes has published three collections of poetry, several children's books and held numerous exhibitions of her art work.

Thanks to Peter at Sylvia Plath Info blog for the link.