Category Archives: language

Review: Elementum No 1

‘Ocean Beat’ by Sorrel Wilson and Jay Armstrong

Reading Elementum is something of a subtle sensual overload.  This new journal ‘of nature and story’ is a beautifully judged amalgam of photographs, art, narratives, poems, design, paper craft and ink. Everything about it seems set to put a brake on the swish-swish-swoosh mode of browsing engendered by too much shiny screen time.  The matt surface of paper itself gives the eye traction, and the words on the page offer a firm growing medium for thought.  This is rich soil.  And, like a healthy loam, the book – it’s fair to call it that, as it is a decent index finger think – has it’s own intoxicating scent. I’m reading while basking in the fertile tang of printer’s ink.  Contributor and editor Jay Armstrong has made a marvellous thing! Continue reading


Yellow Rose

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My third colour poem makes the triad of painter’s primaries. It takes its starting point from a lively tune I remember from the radio when I was a small boy. Of course I didn’t know then that the origins of the song went back over a hundred years earlier, or what the lyrics were about. Continue reading


Stravaig

script1_verticalI accidentally attended a workshop at the very excellent Scottish Poetry Library yesterday. ‘Accidentally’ because the workshop wasn’t exactly about what I though it was – my fault for not reading the small print in sufficient detail once again!  I should have looked up acrostic first (well, now I know…)

stravaigWhat the workshop was about was about image and poetry, but in the sense of using text and other elements to make a poem that is spatial as well as (or maybe more than) temporal.  Well, so to speak…

…clear as mud? Think ‘concrete poetry’ (for example).

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, however, so I decided to give it a go…

To be honest, I felt a bit at sea – I’ve always found this kind of thing quite difficult to get into. But in any event it was good to grapple with it with people who didn’t.  I was impressed by the range of visual and crafting, as well as writing skills that other participants brought to the party. (Of course, having actually got what the workshop was to be about initially, it probably was more likely that they would know where they were at!)

As always though, it’s grand to have a chance to see shiny minds at work. I was struck by a kind of ‘lightness of step’ that I admire a great deal in much of what people were doing. Watching (and listening) to this I sometimes feel I’m gazing at dancers in point shoes bourrée their way past a place where I’ve stomped in with wellies and a view to some spadework.

This morning, however, I thought of a way of bringing some of my partly developed efforts from yesterday together. Of course it took about three and a half hours to make – but here it is, in all its thirty second splendour!  With thanks to Helen and Malcy for a very educational and interesting experience, and to all the other participants, for being rather amazing…

 Stravaig:

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Unscheduled tangents at half past eight

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 CHOICE 

So many alternatives

Here, there, everywhere.

Shall I, shan’t I?

Rolled, unrolled?

A multiverse of tuneable futures.

The Lady Vanishes

Was she real, was she ever, or was she

The impure fluid green fairy of liquid confusion?

Do all her accessories also dissolve,

Or she herself alone, leaving only air

To cosset a sudden feminine free-falling of silk, chiffon, and organza?

See Pick of the Day

Best of the batch, top of the heap

Today’s top tale, or tomorrow’s –

Back when chips had a whiff of printer’s vinegar –

STOP PRESS! (red ink, block caps) –

A late-night poke from Brattisani’s wafting so salt-n-saucily into the house.

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(Until 2004 Brattisani’s was a family run fish-and-chip shop in Edinburgh, reputedly the first, or one of the first, in Scotland)

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Present in scent

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In the evening darkness
You tap recent grace notes.

Singing moments more clearly
Than the instant of a bulb.

Coffee smooth as an unguent
Heralds near satisfactions.

The air dilutes her presence
Until a key click blooms with return.

If we shared a language
The words would still be silent.

Scents of slow time shadowing,
This longer minded now.

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The End of an Elephant’s Tail

imageThis wee poem was made following a writing exercise started at a poetry workshop today.  The workshop was ‘Sparking Ideas from Science’ given by Emily Dodd at the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum (University of Dundee), and was part of the Women in Science Festival.

Thanks for the workshop, Emily – it was great fun!

 

 

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A bout now

a bout This poem was partly inspired by an article by Laura Spinney ‘The time illusion: how your brain creates now’. (New Scientist, 10th January 2015).

Just how long is ‘now’? It seems that, for most of us, our ‘experienced moment’ is probably of a few seconds duration.

Scientists believe that the experience we call ’now’ takes a little longer than the time required for our senses to be affected by changes in the world. And slightly longer again is needed to create a flowing sensation of continuity.

Of course our perception of this flow of time varies. Sometimes when we are most focussed – meditating, fearful or highly excited, time itself can seem to move more slowly, as our brains race to catch every single beat…
Continue reading