Ventifact

Not owning a property, I don’t own a fence or a wall.  I’m not sure that is the reason, but I suppose it could in part  be why posts seem to have become a minor theme for me. Or it could be just be that, in a populous and long-cultivated island like Britain, lines and boundaries, old and new, are so plentiful as to be unavoidable. You are always bumping into the edge of someone else’s definition of something. 

In places that generally feel quite wild for the drawing of lines on the land, posts of one sort or another – wood, stone, metal – are generally hard to avoid. In the hills – even (or the perhaps especially) when wires are long gone, old fenceposts are often handy waymarks for walkers – especially in fog or snow. At any rate I seem to have become attached to some of them, and developed needs to tap, listen to their sounds, and daydream a little about their stories…

Ventifact

High up, near the drystane shelter
between Leacach and Maol
by the ridge dyke, by iron spikes –
once I was an older fence of wood.

Wind beat time and ice and rain
and drummed norther posts
down to the final nubs
of outsized Argos pencils.

I retain my tensioned form –
grain-split twisting sinuosity,
a lime-dried wrist upthrust
wire-clench tight, though

not to punch. To punctuate.
Sculpted dot on a broken line.
Air’s song is what it moves –
I am an artefact of invisibles.

I am dictation. I am a note.

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Other post posts…

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a tree speaks

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a large beech tree

a tree speaks is a short film poem.

The poem is one that I wrote back in 2017 when I was working on a collaboration with artist Tansy Lee Moir.

Now felt like a good time to rework some text animation that I made for a projection back then into a proper film poem. You can see the result below… (sound on is best)

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Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie

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I was recently lucky enough to be able to attend a short writing workshop given by Kathleen Jamie, Scotland’s new makar. At the coffee break I was bold enough to ask for her to sign a copy of her book Surfacing for me. I explained that I’d enjoyed it so much that I had bought several copies of it as presents for friends since I first read it a couple of years ago. I had actually ended up giving my own book to one friend, so I’d bought another copy on my way in that morning. I’d been intending on re-reading it soon anyway – but as it was, I had only read a few pages in the time before the workshop began.

Kathleen kindly took my pen and, before she signed the book, asked if I wanted her to include my name – “Yes please.” I said, and she replied, joking a little, “You won’t be able to give this one away then!” 

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Well met

I’ve been reading a remarkable book called The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World by David Abram. It’s a study in ecological philosophy that seeks to examine and understand world views of cultures that don’t separate human consciousness and the natural world. Frankly, it’s not always been the easiest read – I’m afraid my slow brain does have to chug over some paragraphs several times to make sense of them! However, it’s been worth it. Mostly I’ve found it invigorating, and I’d recommend it.

This short poem is about a kind of encounter which most of us might have had sometime, perhaps often if we are lucky. This (and other meetings like this) played in my thoughts a lot while I was reading David Abram’s book. I see this poem as a meeting between two very different minds in the same domain (i.e. not between ‘a human and nature’). It might be commonplace – it certainly was once. It’s slight, but (I hope) there is more to it than meets the eye.

Well met

Where the fireweed straggles
after the arch of the viaduct

I met the deer in an accident
we closed quietly.

A young doe looking up without
alarm to a slow moment

we measure in-between –
calm breaths elongating

our horizon – until unworried
she turns and walks away.

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Poetry Scotland

A windfall of poetry goodness through my letterbox this morning (ok, the posty didn’t actually deliver the leaves…). I’m delighted to have a piece in this autumn edition of Poetry Scotland – Andy Jackson has come up with an epic three-parts-for-one-and-one-for-all special edition this time.

You can get a copy or subscribe at http://www.poetryscotland.com