Lockdown meeting

For several years I’ve often worked from home, but of course this year most of my colleagues at work have had little choice but to begin to do the same. As a consequence of the coronavirus lockdown, like so many others, I suddenly found I was taking part in a lot more online meetings, both for work, and with friends.

It’s great that these technologies allow us see each other when we are talking. The experience is not as good as being with, but there does seem to be a stronger feeling of presence than is the case with just a phone call. Of course the shiny newness of this sensation soon wears off as the technology quickly grows more familiar. It already seems quite odd to imagine now, that meeting people using remote video was for a long time an idea largely in the realm of science fiction, or James Bond movies, something with a glamour that bordered almost on thrilling …

Lockdown meeting

Is anybody there?
Can you hear me?
UN-MUTE! They are shouting,
a small informal ensemble pew,
like a University Challenge choir,
feedback buzzers primed.

It’s right there, just CLICK IT!
My mouse-palmed ouija
sweeps and taps the table,
rendering both more and less remote
the possibility of presence.

And what does it mean
in Microsoft Teams,
if only one has camera off?
Is their webcam broken?
Did they forget to shave?
Are they still undressed?

Or is the house just too much mess
for morning discretion.
A late-night party gone just too far
to find absolution in the gaussian
caress of backround blur.

Those present gaze down,
or top-left, or anywhere else,
speaking to an invisible presence,
a congregation unsure
of the exact location in the room,
of an obscure   lurking god.

Absent Charlie on intercom,
commissioning the Angels,
while – who knows? –
observing in sight unseen,
that this episode seems
far less glamorous,
than once-upon-a-time.
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It’s almost

 

It can be an nervous time, when you have been waiting for a change for a long while, and you know it is coming soon, although you don’t know exactly when it will happen. When the change finally arrives, will it be what you expected? And, meeting it, will you be the person you may have wished to be?

 

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It’s almost

Leaves remain furled at harbour,
tide not turned yet for royals
set aloft on a new season’s airs.

So tell me, is it me, or would these fine trees
be bonnier still without
the addition of wee wooden doors?

Is it the same eco-fetish that
makes me pick at kerbside litter,
or am I just another wannabe-curmudgeon?

Certainly trees don’t much care
about dinky doors, or awkward hinges,
or rusty rat-bag minimalist aesthetics.

They neither bare their wrists,
nor wear their watches on them,
their second sweeps are much too slow.

Less than a woodland minute,
sixty seconds back to seven years, or so,
a growing season’s sea of stories,

a wonky-plank squeezed creasote fence,
to dreamscaped white horse
marrams of unmapped sunlit wonder.

So yes, you say – it’s me. But there’s just time,
to careen and clean before spring
sails. For now – now it’s almost

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Ghost print

My friend Jerry asked me if I’d like to do a piece for his blog, so I wrote and recorded a text and a poem.

(Plus – you know, he said nice things about me – you gotta take what you can get!)

If you click to view the original post on Jerry’s blog, there is a Soundcloud of the whole thing as a sort of minipodcast.

My My Corona

My friend Steve Smart is one of those people who overflows with talent. He’s a photographer, filmmaker, poet and all around Mr Fix-it when it comes to media and tech things. You can see his work here. He’s brought together a number of his talents with a lovely reflective, poetic piece appropriate to our times. Feast on this (a script follows):

Ghost print

Last night I was listening to an excellent BBC podcast in which artist Norman Ackroyd talks with author Robert Macfarlane.

Both are people whose work I admire hugely, and the conversation was a treat which I recommend. Amongst many topics covered at some point they touched on a story about an ancient hand stencil. This piece of cave art, believed to be the oldest yet discovered had been dated to over 64,000 years ago. Something sparked, and I knew I would be writing a poem…

View original post 601 more words


TRAWL

TRAWL is a video poem made for Stanza 2020 (Scotland’s International Poetry Festival) as part of Scotland’s Year of Coasts & Waters 2020.

It’s a collaboration between myself, poet Matthew Caley, using text from his sixth collection Trawlerman’s Turquoise, musician and bioacoustician Alex South, and experts in marine science at the University of St Andrews.

You can see TRAWL on a screen at the Byre Theatre during the Festival, or you can watch it on my Vimeo channel, right here… (volume up to hear Alex’s amazing soundtrack!)

 

More about …

TRAWL at StAnza 2020
http://www.stanzapoetry.org/festival/events/trawl

‘Trawlerman’s Turquoise’ by Matthew Caley is published by Bloodaxe Books
https://www.bloodaxebooks.com/ecs/product/trawlerman-s-turquoise-1218

Matthew Caley will be at Stanza 2020, for further details please see
http://www.stanzapoetry.org/festival/poets-artists/caley

Alex South is a composer, performer, and bioacoustician
https://alexsouth.org/

With thanks to marine scientists at the University of St Andrews, especially:
Richard Bates, Ellen Garland, Bernie McConnell, and Luke Rendell.

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Coast Lines

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I’m slightly intimidated that I’m going to be at a Poetry Café event with some writers who are well above my paygrade (!) on the morning of Friday 6th March at StAnza International Poetry Festival next week. It’s called Coast Lines.
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In case you can’t make it to the Byre in St Andrews for coffee, the craic is going to be webcast too, via https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/livevideo/one/ but not recorded so you have to watch it live, times and other event details are at http://www.stanzapoetry.org/festival/events/breakfast-poetry-caf-coast-lines
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Antarctic poems at Discovery Point

I’m delighted that the home of the RSS Discovery in Dundee has been able to arrange to borrow some of the materials from the 2019 Antarctic poetry competition, based in New Zealand. “The world’s first and only poetry exhibition in the Antarctic” aims to raise awareness of the role of Antarctica in our understanding of the climate crisis.

Discovery Point were very helpful with giving me access to the ship and to the collection in order to take photographs to accompany my submission for this unusual competition.  You can see eight of the poems and images from the competition, including my own shortlisted poem in the reception area – which is still accessible if you are only popping in for a poem and a coffee! The poems will be on display from now until sometime around March 2020.

More about the competition

More about my poem and images (with a reading)

More about Discovery Point

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The coffin road to Kilfinnan

Last month for Book Week Scotland, Stanza International Poetry Festival made postcards with short poems responding to work by a favourite poet. It was really nice to be asked to contribute. I enjoyed writing a poem for this so much, I made three. This is the one that ended up on a Stanzacard…

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