Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I've booked my tickets for StAnza 2012 and I'm gutted at the dates of the John Burnside and Kathleen Jamie readings because I can't make either of them. However I've bought tickets for the Bernard O'Donoghue and Tony Curtis reading, the Chase Twichell and Lavinia Greenlaw reading both on the Friday. On the Saturday I've booked tickets for the Poetry Breakfast event with Robert Crawford, Norman McBeath, Lavinia Greenlaw and Michael Symmons on images and imagery, and the Happenstance Showcase event with Niall Campbell, Richie McCaffery and Theresa Muñoz.
I'm only staying at St. Andrews for the Friday night this year, it'd be nice to see a friendly face if anyone reading this is going!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Help, Please, Anyone?

I'm thinking of organising a poetry reading locally and as I've never organised one before I'll take all the advice I can get!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Clash of Voices

"She writes of both people and sights that enthral us in islands...She writes of all of these characters with a wonderful tenderness and lightness of touch, seeing in a new and fresh way these images from our shared past"
I'm delighted that Donald S Murray, author of short story collections, poetry collections and non-fiction books, has written an excellent half-page review of Vintage Sea for 'Events', a monthly newspaper for Lewis and Harris.
In the last year I've written two poems inspired by Donald's excellent book The Guga Hunters, so being a fan of his writing I'm really excited about this review!

In the review Donald raises an interesting point about the high number of island poets and the linguistic tensions faced by island communities. I was brought up by a Gaelic-speaking mother (she could speak English too!) and an English-speaking father, Donald himself told me that his father was Gaelic-speaking and his mother was not. Donald says of his writing -
"I am very conscious that, just like Marion, while the words might be English, their underlying rhythms and concerns often belong to my other tongue. It is, in fact, a Gaelic way of thought that allows my English to be (I hope!) distinctive and fresh, enabling me, too, to present a world-view that is different from other writers".
Donald notes that both Norman MacCaig and George Mackay Brown, two of Scotland's greatest writers in English in the twentieth century, shared a similar divide to ours in terms of mixed-linguistic family history.

In an email to Donald I had explained the role of the Gaelic language in my background:
In my own experience Gaelic is a huge part of my background, as a child I spent every summer between Back and Barvas and by the end of every summer I could largely understand general conversations. With having been brought up by a Gaelic-speaking mother, Gaelic words were part of my everyday speech, in fact I remember thinking some Gaelic words were actually English! Yet, because I've never actually learned the language it's always had a sense of mystery about it, always just beyond my grasp. In saying that, it seems to me that there is a comfortable symbiotic kind of relationship between Gaelic and English though perhaps that only exists now for the older generations.
I hadn't actively thought on the effect of the Gaelic language on my writing, mainly because I don't write in Gaelic, so this has been very interesting to me.
"[R]ooted in the landscape and experience of Scotland. The poems are full of imagery and characters who remain almost at the edge of vision, not explained, just there"

Thanks to Juliet Wilson for her kind words about Vintage Sea on her blog here. Interesting that she assumed my poem We Met by a Charm of Crossbills recorded an actual experience of mine, not sure how she feels about the poem since I confessed I'd never seen a crossbill in my life!