Monday, January 04, 2016

Well that's the whole festive shebang out of the way and I've been absorbed in reading so many books - I find myself always going back to certain poets - Roethke, Transtromer, Lawrence, H.D., Bhatt.  More recently Linda Gregg's Collected which I picked up a couple of months ago, and Niedecker Collected which I've sat aside for now. I've been reading a variety of folklore and mythology books too, the latest is Healing Threads: Traditional Medicines of the Highlands and Islands by Mary Beith.

Tree Language is on Christmas sale for a mere £3.99!!

As part of a Scottish poet's project I'm working on a poem about Polphail - a ghost village on the banks of Loch Fyne about an hour-and-a half-drive from Dunoon. The housing estate was built to house oil rig construction workers in the 1970's during the Scottish oil boom but for practical reasons no workers were ever housed at Polphail. Despite the site being fully functional and furnished with kitchens, laundrette, bar and leisure facilities it was left to vandals and natural decay. A few years back an artist group gained permission to brighten up the place with graffiti-style art work which the occasional visitor has added to. It's a fascinating place to visit and I have plenty notes for the poem - not sure yet which direction to take it but many possibilities.


Jim Murdoch said...

I had no idea Polphail existed. Or if I did I’ve long forgotten. I can imagine wandering around it. I’ve always had a thing for disused buildings and loved investigating old factories as a kid. But a whole village! There’s something about emptiness. It’s one of those wonderful abstract terms. You can’t pick it up or describe it but you can certainly feel it. I just love the something-should-be-here-ness of empty rooms. I find myself about emptiness a few times in the new book:

It’s not unlike looking into a recently vacated room through a door that’s been left slightly ajar and knowing what’s missing.

… like in the way we empathise with the ball in a game of football or come away conscious of how an empty goalmouth must feel.

I write empty rooms, the emptier the better, and there is nothing more revealing that a person in an empty room free from distractions.

The latter is, of course, a nod to Pascal.

A Cuban In London said...

Gorgeous post. That must be a fascinating space to visit. Thanks.

Greetings from London.

Marion McCready said...

I don't know about it until recently either, Jim! I used to explore falling down houses as a kid too so this was heavenly but very spooky! I couldn't bring myself to go down the dark corridors inside the buildings and after being there a while I was weirdly desperate to leave. I like the excerpt from your new book - the empty goalmouth is a great image.

Thanks Cuban, it was an amazing place to visit! I've written my Polphail poem but I've got so much leftover material that I didn't use in the poem that I'm sure I'll be writing about it again sometime!