Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's been a busy month or so with poetry events, kids birthday parties and now the trip of a lifetime to Israel in two weeks time to plan for. When I was talking to Donald S Murray, he said that there are two ways he approaches writing a book: (1) ask a question and then the book aims to answer that question (ie for The Guga Hunters he asked himself why do men from the small community of Ness continue the centuries-old tradition of hunting baby gannets). (2) Use a metaphor or image and keep it in mind whilst writing the book, so for Donald's book about the building of the Italian chapel in Orkney he had in mind the image of Pinocchio, the wooden puppet coming to life.
I thought this was all very interesting.

 I've been reading through my collected Ingeborg Bachmann and she has some gorgeous turns of phrase, though because I'm reading in translation I guess I'll never know how much of my translation is Bachmann or the translator. Either way, it's very good reading, very Celan-like which is to be expected but much more nature-orientated or grounded in which is definitely up my street. Here's a wee taster from 'Borrowed Time':

For the entrails of fish
have grown cold in the wind.
Dimly burns the light of lupines.
Your gaze makes out in fog:
the loan of borrowed time
will be due on the horizon.

There your loved one sinks in sand;
it rises up to her windblowh hair,
it cuts her short,
it commands her to be silent,
it discovers she's mortal
and willing to leave you
after every embrace.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Poems for Pussy Riot

"Both the example set by Pussy Riot — fierce, feminist champions of freedom — and the example being made of them by the Russian judiciary has fired something in writers around the world. The band’s punk prayer, a poem gorgeously translated into English by Carol Rumens and Sasha Dugdale, uses language precisely and powerfully — and it’s inspired the poets who’ve contributed to do the same."
Want to get involved? Check out this page.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Does anyone have any tips on moving from poetry pamphlet collection to a full-length collection?
I said in an earlier post that I'm ready to put my post-Vintage Sea poems behind me and start working towards / focusing on a full-length collection. I feel so ready to work on something bigger than a group of random poems. But working out what theme/subject-matter I want to focus on and how to approach the bigger project of a full-length collection is a different thing entirely! So any experience or wisdom that could enlighten me at all would be much appreciated!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Well that's it all over! Saturday at Callander was great, it was nice to hear Richie McCaffery read again and another Happenstance poet, Margaret Christie. The Filmpoem sequence was excellent, great film and photography work by Alistair Cook with poems by Morgan Downie, Elizabeth Rimmer, Andrew Philip, Jo Bell and many others. Many of the films are available to watch freely on the Filmpoem website, well worth checking out. I really enjoyed readings from the Split Screen poems too, a brilliant anthology of 72 commissioned poems based on film and tv. Sally's appearance with her makeshift Yoda hat as she read Colin Will's Yoda poem The last of the little green men was priceless! I sold enough pamphlets to buy myself a copy of the Split Screen anthology and grab a Burger King on the road home, so that wasn't too shabby either!
Then on the Sunday, Donald S. Murray arrived in town and came to dinner so we had a lovely evening chatting to him. A genuinely really lovely guy, it was such a pleasure to meet him and hear him talk about his writing. And it's such a small world that it turns out that as well as other family connections, Donald used to hang around with one of my uncles when they were young, they even shared a flat together in Glasgow! I tagged along while he read some of his work and talked to the Gaelic and English students at the local secondary school and then had the privilege to read alongside him in the evening to a small but friendly audience. It's the first time I've read my own work in Dunoon so that's a milestone crossed! I've done a write-up of the event for the local paper and I'm hoping, through it to make contact with any other like-minded poetry people in the community and raise interest for possible future poetry events.

Friday, September 07, 2012

I'm banning the word 'blood' and its variants from my poetic language. Going through my poems trying to pick a reading list for tomorrow and I can't believe how much blood is in them. I've got - blood clots, bloods of Christ, blood-rock, blood waves, blood-birds, bloodied skins, Blood, under the blood... and so on! Not quite sure what this says about me but it has to stop!!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Unusually for me I have a week of poetry events coming up... well two events anyway!
Sally Evans' Callander poetry weekend begins this Friday, I'm reading on the Saturday morning alongside Kemal Houghton, Robin Cairns, Juliana Greer, John Coutts, Katy Conrad, A. C. Clarke, Richie McCaffery and Morelle Smith. I'll be staying for the afternoon readings which will be from the Split Screen anthology and the Filmpoem project, so really looking forward to that. And then on the Monday night I'll be introducing Donald S Murray to read in Dunoon and, hopefully, have some music from a Gaelic singer. Hoping it'll be a good turn out. I've been running around town today putting up posters for it!
The photographer whose picture illustrates my poems in the recent Northwords Now has said that she would like to do a collaborative pamphlet witth my poems and her pictures. I really like the idea of this but actually getting it published is looking like it could be pretty tricky, neither of us being famous and photos being costly to print, which is a real shame.