Tuesday, June 25, 2013

This year is the 150th anniversary of the planting of an avenue of fifty sierra redwoods in Argyll's Benmore Botanical Gardens. To celebrate, Benmore has had its own poet in residence for the month of June. I've been following poet, Sue Butler's Walking with Poets blog with great interest as she's been writing and conducting workshops from the gardens over this last month. She has an exciting project on the go of aiming to collect 150 four-line poems about the redwood avenue. At the time of blogging she has 100 poems, I've just sent three in. So she needs another 50 by this weekend to reach the target. You don't have to be from the area or in the area to write a four liner about the gorgeous trees but if you feel inclined to please do post them in the comments box at the Walking with Poets blog where you can read all of the other poems too!
I been a regular at the gardens since I was a child and it's exciting to see so much poetic activity happening there!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Ready to burst with excitement!
Part of the Scottish Book Trust award was the opportunity to be mentored for a period of nine months. In February I went for an interview at the Scottish Book Trust to see if mentoring would be, I guess, cost-efficient for them to 'invest' in me at my stage in writing. I was asked who I would like to mentor me, someone within reasonable traveling distance. So I mentioned a couple of names of poets who would be great to be mentored by but wouldn't be what I would call 'dream mentors'.
Then one evening, reading online, I noticed that Vicki Feaver now lives in Scotland, something I'd forgotten about. So I fired off a quick email to the SBT to say that she would be a dream mentor for me if it wasn't too late to put in a request. I didn't dare get my hopes up, perhaps she wouldn't be interested in mentoring or available etc but today I received a wonderful email from the SBT to say that Vicki Feaver would be mentoring me for the next nine months and our first meeting will be set up as soon as possible. So I don't know how long this stupid grin will be plastered all over my face but I imagine for a good while!

Friday, June 14, 2013

A powerful and moving short film about a tragic night in 2005, poems by the excellent poet and writer, Donald S. Murray. It was showcased last week on Change Shetland.
 I always knew I would like Alice Oswald's poetry but somehow never got around to picking up any of her collections. However I was so impressed by the Oswald poems we looked at during our workshops in France and especially by her composing method of meditating and asking things in the natural world to tell her their 'names' in order to write about them. It helped me write a poem about the water irises that I'd been struggling to write since I got to France so definitely another conceptual tool to add to my toolkit.
I also came across the typescript of an interview Oswald did for the BBC on 'Poetry for Beginners'. It's an absolutely fantastic read, in some parts I was sure I was reading Ted Hughes. I especially loved this section -

  "Poems are written in the sound house of a whole body, not just with the hands. So before writing, I always spend a certain amount of time preparing my listening. I might take a day or sometimes as much as a month picking up the rhythms I find, either in other poems or in the world around me. I map them into myself by tapping my feet or punching the air and when my whole being feels like a musical score, I see what glimpses, noises, smells, I see if any creature or feeling comes to live there."

Isn't that a wonderful image? You can read the rest of the interview here.
I've since bought her Woods etc collection and thoroughly recommend it.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

 If you live in Scotland and haven't seen this yet, check it out. I've booked my place on it!

NAWE Presents The Poet’s Compass: a conference for Scotland’s emerging poets

Sat 29 Jun 2013 to Sat 29 Jun 2013
Are you at an early stage in your journey to becoming a poet? Want some insider tips on how to get your poetry seen and heard as well as in print? Live and work in Scotland? (17th June Booking deadline)
Saturday 29 June 2013, 10am – 6.30pm
CCA, 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3JD

In a packed day of talks, workshops and panel sessions, we’ll be looking at:

The state of poetry publishing today and what you can do to make editors sit up and want to publish you (Neil Astley, editor of Bloodaxe Books, is our keynote speaker)

What it means to be a poet today – how you can follow your own path, reach different audiences and be creatively fulfilled

The role of the small press, magazine and writers’ network in helping emerging poets to make their poetry public

Getting involved in spoken word and performance poetry events

The benefits of working across platforms and collaborating with other artists and sectors

Plus workshops on pamphlet poetry, poetry online, doing it for yourself, and poetry residencies

At the end of the day, there’ll be drinks and socialising, and a comprehensive information pack to take away to help you start planning the next steps in your journey as a poet.

Speakers: Neil Astley, editor of Bloodaxe Books (keynote), Gerry Cambridge, Jim Carruth, Harry Giles, Gerry Loose, Kona Macphee, Ali Maloney, Chris McCabe, Elspeth Murray, Helena Nelson and Michael Pedersen

Tickets: £25 (includes lunch)

Booking form (which gives eligibility details) plus summary and full programme information are available to download here – see Associated Downloads to right. Speaker biogs will be available shortly.

The Poet’s Compass is presented by NAWE (National Association of Writers in Education) in partnership with CCA, Glasgow Life, Scottish Book Trust, Scottish Poetry Library and St Mungo’s Mirrorball, with investment from Creative Scotland. It is part of Turning Another Page, a professional development programme for writers living and working in Scotland.

Go to the NAWE webpage here for further info.