Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Delighted to see the online version of the summer issue of Northwords Now is now available and very much looking forward to the actual magazine arriving in the post!

P12 is a gorgeous photo by the photographer Barbara MacAskill which illustrates my poems on P13. I'm loving the cover pic too which is by painter and fellow Argyllshire resident, Sian MacQueen.
There's a great interview with the wonderful John Burnside and plenty more poems and short stories inside!

And if reading my poems doesn't bore you entirely you can hear me read some of them at the audio section of the Northwords Now website!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thanks to Jim's excellent review of The Jaguars Dream by John Kinsella, a wide selection of non-english poems chosen and  translated by Kinsella, I followed Jim's link to Kinsella's website and came across a fantastic selection of Kinsella's essays all available to read online.
I've never got around to reading much of Kinsella but now I'd really like to pick up some of his work. You can read the essays here and the one's I've read so far have been varied and very interesting.

I particulary like his essay on Plath. It's common knowledge that admitting to being a fan of Plath can be to one's detriment if you want to be taken seriously as a poet but being a young, and specifically male poet, (when Kinsella recounts his youthful introduction to Plath) and admitting to liking Plath is an altogether further take on this strange phenomenon. Kinsella also writes well, I think,  about Plath's 'problematic' imagery, the representation of the 'other' in her poems.

Monday, July 23, 2012

And because I have no news poetry-wise to update on...

British summertime has begun... in theory that is. We're into the fourth week of the summer holidays and the kids and I are surviving remarkably well considering the crap weather! Jamie has spent most of his holidays so far at the old house getting it reading for selling and now we're just waiting on a home report before we can put it up for sale. So if anyone is interested in buying a newly decorated and carpeted two-bedroom flat in (not so sunny but beautiful nontheless) Dunoon, let me know!!

I struggle to get much writing done when we're all out of routine but I have managed to watch all eight series of Spooks available on good old BT Vision. Shocking waste of time I know, what can I say, when I take a notion to something I get a bit obsessed about it and you can't deny it, Spooks is pretty fantastic! I'm being coerced into reading The Natural Navigator by Tristan Gooley (Jamie reads one of my books I have to read one of his). Quite enjoying most of it, it's not unrelated to the Kenneth White Geopoetics, rediscovering our natural selves in nature. The intense study of the humble puddle did make my eyes glaze over but the book gets better and I'm looking forward to getting to the sea chapter.
Apparently the weather is supposed to improve this week so we're planning our first attempt at family camping: all of one night near Stirling so we can fit in a visit to the safari park and Duncarron Medieval Village which should be fun.

I came across the most fantastic dolls of the world collection the other day when we visited Finlaystone Country Park, just across the Clyde from us. The pics don't even show a quarter of the dolls there. The collection was started by Lady MacMillan (Finlaystone estate is the seat of the Clan MacMillan) at the turn of the 20th century. I didn't get much time there so another visit is definitely on the horizon.
Aside from this, life is the usual - potty training, making princess cakes, Skylanders, swimming. Not sure it'll be of much interest to many readers but I've bought myself a new bible, an American Standard Version with Greek and Hebrew dictionaries for keys words at the back which I'm really enjoying using, being able to check up on the translations of difficult words / passages. I always intended to learn Hebrew and started a few times but never kept it up.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

I've just seen the proofs for my Northwords Now poems! They are publishing Tiger Tulips, A Vision of Sula Sgeir,  Orchid, Loch Long and four-section poem called Reflections. On the opposite page to my poems is a gorgeous photograph titled with a line from one of the poems. I love it and can't wait for it to be published!

I'm excited to be reading at the Callander Poetry Weekend in September. It really is one of the best Scottish poetry events and such a friendly atmosphere to read at. Here's the line-up of events and readers here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Anyone who's been reading my blog for a while knows I'm a fan of the poet/philosopher Kenneth White. He was one of the first poets I ever heard read and no other reading, so far, has come close to that experience. I'm currently reading an exploration of White's life and work, The Radical Field by Tony McManus.

Here are some quotes from the first part of the book:

"Perhaps a mother is like the concentration of a culture. I believe mine was a personification of the conflicts, the contradictions, the problems of Scottish culture." Kenneth White
"I take 'seaboard' (littoral, shore) to be particularly significant space. We are close there to the beginnings of life, we cannot but be aware there of primordial rhythms (tidal, meteorological). In that space, too, we have one foot, as it wew, in humanity (inhabited, inscribed space) the other in the non-human cosmos (chaos-cosmos, chaosmos) - and I think it is vitally important to keep that dialogue alive." Kenneth White
"The Scot is a nomad, like the Scythian, his ancestor. But there is in him also a quietude. It is this twofold delight in movement and tranquility which I feel on the moors...space to move in and tranquility to see in. That is the original ground of poetry." Kenneth White
"Those little words like 'God', 'soul' and 'nation' have done a great deal of harm. That's why I use grotesque words which cannot do any harm to anyone: 'erotocosmology', for example!" Kenneth White
"I have never considered myself as 'an artist', defined either as a producer of pabulum for immediate social consumption, or as a public personage in the cultural limelight. In both cases, the artist is caught up in a complex of individual/public relationships, exactly that outside of which I keep myself. In movement, via a process of deconditioning, towards a transpersonal reality." Kenneth White
"It is not a reality, the state of things which is ours today. It hasn't the body of a reality, it has neither the fibre not the tatchiness of a reality. It is a universe of distance and separation, a world where boredom and catastrophe follow each other, deprived of depth and essential continuity. I want real reality. Everything I write is a move towards a little real reality." Kenneth White
"This is about neither idealism or realism. It is perhaps about allowing deep sensations to reach the highest areas of the brain, where they may be deployed in an emptiness which is a plenitude." Kenneth White

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Plath Profiles, an interdisciplinary journal for Sylvia Plath studies, Volume 5 is now published and can be fully downloaded here.
Some really fantastic essays in this one including an excellent collaborative article by Peter K. Steinberg and Gail Crowther on the experience of researching the extensive Sylvia Plath archive material held at Smith College with particular insight into Plath's correspondence with The New Yorker. Also further interesting essays on textual variations in the British and American versions of The Bell Jar, the intrigue of a postcard which survived Plath's 1962 bonfires, the relationship between Plath's Ariel collection and the tarot system and much more. I think this is the best issue so far.