Friday, August 31, 2012

I'm delighted that Donald S. Murray is coming to Dunoon and will be reading from his latest poetry collection, Weaving Songs, at the Dunoon Baptist Church Centre on Monday 10th September at 7pm.

Weaving Songs is a collection of poems and short stories inspired by Donald's childhood growing up in Ness, the northernmost part of the Isle of Lewis. His writing is accompanied by illustratory photographs by Carol Ann Peacock. Donald is the author of the renowned book The Guga Hunters and his poetry, prose and verse has been shortlisted for both the Saltire Award and Callum Macdonald Memorial Award.

I'm pleased to be organising this reading and finally getting a chance to meet Donald. I know Dunoon is out the way for most people but I'd love to meet up with anyone who fancies coming to Dunoon for the day and I've no doubts the reading will be a memorable event.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I've decided to start thinking about putting together another pamphlet collection.
I was originally working towards a full-length collection but I feel I've been writing in a limbo-period over the last year-and-a-half and now I've come back to myself and I want to put the post-Vintage Sea poems behind me into their own wee pamphlet home and start on something new and focused. It's very exciting / exhilarating starting to put a submission together, I already have a provisional title for a collection and I only really decided last night. Of course, there's no guarantee that anyone will publish it but at the start of the process, before all of the rejections, it's all good fun! :)
The Mahmoud Darwish Selected came in yesterday and what started out as a quick flick through, sucked me right into the book. The poems are just amazing. Packed with gorgeous language and imagery. Not sure what forms are at work but there's much mantra style line repetition which works almost hypnotically and suits the themes perfectly. The book is prefaced with a couple of lines from Lorca -
But now I am no longer I,
nor is my house any longer my house

and there is definitely a Lorca feel to the poems - the exotic land imagery for one. But the poems aren't sentimental. Despite the beautiful language and imagery they can be hard-hitting as they deal with difficult themes in opposites - love/hate, being at home/alienation, peace/war, identity/loss of identity, individual/ the people, and of course, life/death. These constant dualities are explored, painfully, in the first person. However the poems aren't political treatises, they are always, and above all, poems.

Some lines from 'Another Road in the Road'

There is yet another road in the road, another chance for migration.
To cross over we will throw many roses in the river.
No widow wants to return to us, there we have to go, north of the neighing horses.
Have we yet forgotten something, both simply and worthy of our new ideas?
When you talk about yesterday, friend, I see my face reflected in the song of doves.
I touch the dove's ring and hear flute-song in the abandoned fig tree.
My longing weeps for everything. My longing shoots back at me, to kill or be killed.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wanderfor a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace" Kate Chopin

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I've started reading the first of my recently ordered poetry collections - Into the Deep Street: Seven Modern French Poets 1938-2008 

Also waiting to come in the post is:

Sea Room: An Island Life - a biographical book about a young man, Adam Nicolson, who inherited the Shiants, a group of uninhabited Hebridean islands beween Skye and Harris. I've been wanting to read this book for a long time.

Darkness Spoken - The collected poems of Ingeborg Bachmann

Unfortunately, it Was Paradise - Selected poems of Mahmoud Darwish

I really enjoy reading European poetry, my favourite poet last year was the wonderful German poet, Durs Grunbein. When I'm going on holiday I like to read up on some poetry from the place I'm going, the last two books should give you a clue about where I'm going in October! :)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

I'd like to highlight another couple of poetry blogs I've being enjoying following for a while now.

The first is HG Poetics blog by Henry Gould.
Gould has a particular interest in / affinity with a group of early twentieth century Russian poets called the Acmeists (Gumilev, Akhmatova, Mandelstam). He regularly posts sections from his exceptionally long poem Lanthanum and also occasionally posts video recordings of his guitar playing, which I absolutely love. Gould writes occasional essays on his, and Acmeist, poetics which are extremely interesting. You can watch a video of Gould reading a selection of his poems at a recent poetry reading posted on his blog.

Also worth a visit is Clarissa Aykroyd's blog The Stone and the Star. Clarissa writes regularly on poetry and, at times, poetry in relation to film, art, travel and anything else that takes her interest. I think we must have similar poetic tastes as she seems to mostly write about poets I extremely like. She even got to attend a celebration of Transtromer's work with not only Transtromer actually physically present but none other than Wallander star, Krister Henriksson reading the poems in Swedish. I'm still confounded by jealousy over this!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Less than a week until the holidays are over. It's been a busy but good time with the kids, catching up with friends and general hectic summer holiday life. I'm looking forward to calmness and routine and poetry, all have which have pretty much gone right out of the window over the last couple of months.

Though my poetry reading has been limited I have enjoyed reading Alan Stubbs' poems. There are several on his blog all of which have been published in Poetry Review and a fantastic essay on John Burnside which was originally published  in Agenda. Alan has put together a first poetry collection manuscript which he thinks he'll struggle to get published because of the current publishing climate, though judging by not only the quality of his poems but also his impressive magazine publishing credits, I don't think he'll struggle much at all!! It's definitely worth checking out his blog.

I'm still in shock at the cheque I received this morning for the Northword Now poems, who says poetry doesn't pay!!! I'm making up a nice list of desirable books to purchase, it's been a while since I've had a book splurge! Candidates include The Sea Room by Adam Nicolson, Weaving Songs by Donald S Murray and Contemporary World Poetry - An Anthology. I'm open to suggestion, particularly for current poetry in translation.