Category Archives: landscape

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 singing ringing pole

The Singing Ringing Tree‘ (Das singende, klingende Bäumchen) was a strange East German fairy-tale film shown by the BBC in the 1960s. It is also the title of a sound sculpture in Lancashire on a hill called Crown Point above Burnley.

It’s not just the simple rhyme of the title that sticks in the imagination, especially for those who saw the uncanny film as small children, something about its odd atmosphere seemed to resonate. Apparently in a 2004 Radio Times poll it was voted “20th spookiest show ever”, even though it was a story for children.

This visual poem is about an encounter with a kind of life after death. The title is a small homage to the strangeness of that children’s film.

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the singing ringing pole

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Young’s slits

Young’s slits

A locked door
in dark woods
blindslat slits filleting
light from elsewhere.
What is outside?

Crabbit dark-oath laird
of ruddy anger
welcoming visitors
like deadly ailments
long hoped dead?

Walled garden,
too long neglected,
cosseting ancient seeds,
warm bowered trysts,
and story fruit?

Interference patterns
in imagination physics,
destructive, constructive,
both can condense
together all at once.

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a field poem

a field poem

(like field notes, but y’know – poety…)

I saw a bare-armed man
who flailed and capered,
turning unexpectedly about,
beating air like a conductor of elements,
until in a final spasm he flailed a stick
with great vigour,
up and into the sky.

I guessed at an unseen silent dog,
or madness.

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The Writer’s Cafe Magazine – ISSUE 16 “Landscape and Maps”

088E481D-4736-40B0-983F-4512DA1AFF2BChuffed to have a wee poem (it’s sort of a diptych) in this excellent ‘Landscape and maps’ edition of The Writers Cafe Magazine…

via The Writer’s Cafe Magazine – ISSUE 16 “Landscape and Maps”


Now there is a wire

Now there is a wire

~~ So there is a wire now. ~~ Step back, rethink. ~~ Now there is a wire. ~~
Before, for thirty years,
there were only posts.
Posts with old tales
of once-upon-a-fence.

Like the empty posts
in empty places,
high lines in the hills,
cast iron sentinels in
Victorian picturesque,
secure verticals
of redundant limitation.

Or eroded wooden
posts, wind riven
Giacometti men,
weird signs or saviours,
misty day markers,
wires all unstrung,
silent to the gale.

But here now,
a single wire,
not even barbed,
a margin for stock
herded to pasture,
one galvanised line,
not a problem,
stepped over with ease.

Is it only because,
white haired as I am,
I still want to skip
like an unruly child,
that it rankles so,
that
now there is a wire?

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Obstinacy

Obstinacy

A tree shines brightly
near the Allt Glas-Doire,
by the coffin road.

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