Here is my PowerPoint presentation of the views expressed in Unstated: Writers on Scottish Independence (Word Power Books, 2012), a collection of essays by 27 poets, novelists and playwrights. I delivered it at the annual conference of DATE (The Danish Association of Teachers of English) in Esbjerg yesterday (28th February 2014).
I enjoy Frank Wilson’s blog, Books, Inq., not least for the daily quote from someone whose birthday it is. I have made a poem out of today’s quote. I miscounted. I thought the quote had fourteen words, and I didn’t realise my mistake till I’d written the octet. But, as Mick Jagger says, “there ought to be more mistakes”.
Unless you are a genius, it is best to aim at being intelligible.
– Anthony Hope
Unless I’m very much mistaken,
you tend to quit whenever things
are getting tough. But chaos brings
a chance for every god-forsaken
genius to find a killer move;
it offers space to rescue what
is most divine, to see what’s not
best suited for the present groove,
to blossom, and to grow. This time
aim high! Don’t worry if you fail
at what you’ve aimed for. Simply through
being aware, you’ll make your tale
intelligible. Here’s to you.
And to new Hope that leads to rhyme.
I’ve never been a huge fan of the way Robert Burns’ birthday is traditionally celebrated. So here’s an alternative tribute:
The Quirks of Sæby
i) Langebroen (Long Bridge)
It’s long by name
but not by nature;
sixty metres is all.
The point is though
the river below
is only very small.
ii) Gedebjerget (Goat Mountain)
Legend has it that Gedebjerget is named after the Viking chieftain, Gjede, a pirate who used the “mountain” as a lookout post for likely ships to attack.
Where I come from
does not a mountain make.
I doubt that sheep
would find it too steep.
There must be some mistake.
iii) Syvsten (Seven Stones)
No one knows why
these stones were set here,
thirty-five miles from Skagen.
The story’s lost,
but not what it cost.
The seven stones remain.
At the end of last year I posted a piece called “After the Flood” that was inspired by one of the seven mosaics Carl-Henning Pedersen constructed in Ribe Cathedral. I’ve reworked it since, and it has now appeared in the 200th issue of Snakeskin.
A great picture of a magnificent rare wild beast. And it’s nice to see the deer in there too.
Here’s where this photo comes from:
I heard Kevin Gore several times in Edinburgh in August, and I’m keeping in touch. I was “with him” at Hampden to see Hibs go down to Celtic in the Cup Final. And last night Kevin saw Niel Young perform in Glasgow. Here’s rare footage of Niel Young as a youngster busking at the Gordon Street entrance to Glasgow Central Station. Tight bastards, those Scots.
Immersing oneself in folk songs is a grand way to learn about cultures, to become linguistically and musically adept, as well as politically aware, and ultimately a source through which one can carve out one’s own identity and develop one’s own talent. I am stirred especially by the folk songs of Scotland and Ireland, but also by those of other cultures, and these are thriving traditions with many interesting cross-fertilisations in recent times. One always hears about folk revivals, but the truth is folk never died. Here, for example, is a recent “short video documentary about two Scottish folk musicians, what they think and feel about their genre. A heart-warming and genuine discussion about the value of folk music as seen through the eyes of those who perform it.”
I’ve recently discovered Heidi Talbot’s music through an acquaintance with the music of John McCusker, who is now her partner. Her 2008 breakthrough album, In Love + Light, is wonderful. Here she’s talking about her latest album, Angels without Wings:
A few years ago Don Share, who has recently been appointed the new editor of Poetry, meditated on Auden’s contention, “Poetry makes nothing happen”: Poetry makes nothing happen… or does it? As he points out, contrary to popular misunderstanding, Auden is hardly saying that poetry does not change anything. The converse is more true, viz. that nothing changes poetry. Political poetry is often folk poetry or folk song and has a relevance far beyond the era that produced it. I’ll leave The Proclaimers with the final WORD:
My e-book, From Moonrise till Dawn: A Cycle of Poetry and Songs is to be published by NordOsten Books on 7th June, which is my dad’s 90th birthday.
This is half a year earlier than the planned date. The original idea was to make new recordings of all the poetry and songs before publishing the book. But now the book’s ready, so we’re going ahead with publishing it.
I have posted a few old recordings on the relevant pages at my new blog and will update as I make new recordings. I intend to post recordings of all 128 pieces. About ten of these will be performed by Christian Meonia George.
I still think the ”till” is too close to the figure riding the fish, but perhaps we’ll stop here for now as Julia wants a picture taken of her water colour when it’s not behind glass.
One photo later and one day later this is how it looks:
Unaware of this, I was up most of last night. I’d asked Patricia Wallace Jones the day before about whether I could use the two illustrations she did for two of my sonnets in The Chimaera and The Shit Creek Review for my forthcoming book. She’d said that would be fine, and she was sure Paul wouldn’t mind. I’d told her I was interested in having more of her illustrations in my book, and last night we discussed this at some length.
Paul was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, but lived in Australia for most of his life. He was a teacher, a poet, and a free spirit.
I’ve written a four-liner for him that will introduce the penultimate section in my forthcoming collection:
It’s no surprise, yet still a shock
that you, my friend, have passed away.
You taught me how to turn the clock
around: each night it’s someone’s day.
To think of all the people Paul has introduced to each other!