Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Wee Nippy Sweeties on Glasgow Subway, Clockworks' project

After the highs of StAnza, some low news (low as in the Glasgow Metro/Subway/Underground). I learned today that my poem 'Wee Nippy Sweeties' has been selected to go up in a carriage of said Glasgow Subway. The project is run by 'Clockworks' named after the subway's nickname: the 'Clockwork Orange' ...

and googling the origins of this nickname, I have discovered that no locals call it that, but never mind. Most of its carriages were painted orange, although called Strathclyde PTE red because of the sectarian connotations of Orange in Glasgow (a step and a hop from N.I.) but anyway, new carriages are now painted in carmine and cream, with a thin orange band. The wonders of wikipedia also informed me of the Subcrawl (visiting pubs near each stop and to complete the entire set takes a whole day) and subsurfing, where said sub/pub crawlers must stand in the aisles balancing without holding onto any straps or poles, probably increasingly impossible as the subcrawling goes on.

Well, well. The times I have travelled on the Glasgow Metro and not known this. Journeys will be more amusing now and possibly sweeter - do look out for my poem 'Wee Nippy Sweeties'.

Monday, 19 March 2012

StAnza 2012 Memories

Gardens of the Preservation Trust Museum, St Andrew's.
Posted by Picasa

Above photo evokes a quiet moment much welcome during the festival hurley burley.

This year, rushing around as Guest on the StAnza Blog, my brief to write about the art installations, and links between poetry and the image.... means that I have not written my usual personal blog about the poetry events. I am far too exhausted, post festival, post end of festival party, dancing into the night to the amazing , bouncy Scottish Western String Band, under the photos/poems of the Stereoscope project flickering on the Byre bar walls to do more than a brief resume of my favourite poetry events:

My mates, of course, Gill Andrews, Claudia Daventry and Jane McKie lived up to all expectations. (Do check out last Saturday's Guardian where Janie's latest pamphlet is given high praise.) Alan Buckley read with assured presence, looking extremely dapper.

The Big Stage highlights for me were Lavinia Greenlaw, Michael Symmons Roberts and Kathleen Jamie for the intensity of their vision and precision of language and a wonderful, exuberant performance by Jackie Kay - a double pleasure was her intimate 'Afternoon Tea' at the Albany Hotel. Did I mention the dog?

Brief encounters but memorable moments for me were chatting to the warm and generous, laid-back Kwame Dawes and of course, his reading,
and the charming Bernard O'Donghue, whose reading at the T.S. Eliot prize-giving in January I had also had the pleasure of hearing, the approachable Tony Curtis (whose readings I missed but everyone has been saying how dynamic they were) and David Morley (whose reading I did attend, and enjoyed his use of the Romani dialect. He was equally dynamic, not least leaping onto the stage). Having a laugh interviewing the two Ruaridhs -(Rody Gorman and Derek Robertson) and getting them to pose for a photo.

Quieter and thoughtful events were Joyce MacMillan's interview with Matthew Hollis about his biography of Edward Thomas - which made me want to get to know this troubled and overlooked poet, whose influence has reverberated throughout the Modern age, as Mathew explained.

Special new finds for me were the Irish poet, Kerry Hardie, with her beautiful, evocative imagery. I would not necessarily have gone to this reading, since I'd attended back to back events all day and was having an energy dip, but a friend insisted I go and she was right. Kerry was sheer gold.

And talking of magic moments, this friend, the Irish poet, Geraldine Mitchell and I had not seen each-other for over 35 years - we were at Trinity (Dublin) together and bumped into each other at StAnza by chance...wonderful serendipity that we have poetry in common too, and it was a poetry festival that has brought us together again. She gave me a copy of her collection 'World Without Maps' (Published by Arlen House, 2011) and I've spent this morning back home reading it - wonderful clarity of imagery and sparse words.

Unexpected bits of info I gleaned, chatting to Catherine Hales, was about the Berlin Poetry Festival (in English) that runs every November run by Catherine. They're working on a webpage but meanwhile can be contacted via Facebook 'Poetry Hearings' so if you fancy a holiday in Berlin and can pay your own expenses, then why not contact them to read your poetry there too? A festival is about networking too, is it not?

Disappointments were the non-appearance of Rachel Boast, who had to withdraw due to illness and my missing the various film/poetry events due to conflicting events. But snippets can be seen/heard on audioboo so I can catch up.

The mega highlight, for me, was the all-day workshop at Balmungo House with Lavinia Greenlaw (see my post on the StAnza blog), followed by Lavinia's lecture on a poet who has influenced her, Sir Thomas Wyatt ('They flee from me...') and the discussion during the Poetry Cafe event on the image, 'Icon' , with Lavinia, Michael Symmons Roberts, Robert Crawford and the photographer, Norman MacBeath. All of these events brought together issues about writing poetry, especially the use of images, which have been illuminating and exciting. I have great hopes that my own writing practice will benefit. But now to get down to reading the new books from above poets, and also writing, maybe, a few of my own.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Back from StAnza 2012

14-18th March
This year, I've been been a Guest on the StAnza Blog, so do have a look.
Fantastic festival, but rather a busier one than usual for me.

It's all over now, bar the crying (that it's over).
Back home, with a suitcase of books and a head full of poetic images. But you'll have to read the StAnza Blog to see what I mean.  See

Popular Posts