Category Archives: poetry

On the wall

With plenty of help from exhibition organiser Tansy Lee Moir, my projection/montage/video piece was safely installed at St Margaret’s House in Edinburgh last night. My piece is based around readings of three short poems from Drawing Breath.

The Grown together exhibition opens on Saturday November 11th.  The exhibition (seen in preparation below) shows a marvellous and very varied collection of tree inspired artwork. Chuffed to be in the company of so many fine artists.

 

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Ting-a-ling-a-ling

This poem was written after reading an article in New Scientist recently. The article shone a light on current thinking about human brain transplantation.

As the magazine’s leader suggested, whatever we might think about some of the ideas discussed, it is important that they are talked about. Scrutiny matters.

The title of the poem refers to a
World War I airman’s song:

The Bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling / For you but not for me:
For me the angels sing-a-ling-a-ling / They’ve got the goods for me.
Oh! Death, where is thy sting-a-ling-a-ling? / Oh! Grave, thy victory?
The Bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling / For you but not for me.

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Ting-a-ling-a-ling

The man who would transplant
a human head, or properly,
exchange a human frame,
Frankenstein or Doctor Strange?
He talks his plan, so far so good,
and sure, well, perhaps, maybe?
Until chillier air keens a chime,
whispering the unsafe word,
                                                      immortality.

An itinerary reminder bings aloud,
it’s Monday, almost midday,
whether my head is there or absentee,
in two minutes the Bute in test
will scream alarm like a scorched banshee.
And in my arms a little twitch,
fingers flicker startle ready,
fumbling set to save my ears – fair warning
                                                      for you and for me.
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Grown together

Some more information about the Grown together exhibition in Edinburgh next month…

Grown together poster

click to enlarge

Grown together

This exhibition brings together 18 artists, makers, poets and designers whose work is intimately connected with trees and woodland.

Though their works span a wide variety of media they are all united by a strong affinity with woodland; as a place to observe and connect with nature, as a rich source of metaphor, as a place for reflection and healing, as a link to distant myths and inspiration for new writing, as a sustainable resource to work with.  For some, trees are their singular subject or their raw materials, for others they represent a starting point for their imagination.

Timed to coincide with the launch of the new national Tree Charter, ‘Grown together’ seeks to highlight the relationship between artists and trees and remind us of the reasons we should value and protect them.  By considering trees in new ways, we can learn much about ourselves.

‘To enter a wood is to pass into a different world in which we ourselves are transformed. It is where you travel to find yourself, often, paradoxically, by getting lost.’ Roger Deakin, Wildwood 2007

The exhibition has been curated by Tansy Lee Moir and includes St Margaret’s House residents and invited artists:

Lynn Ahrens  Charlotte Eva Bryan  Isabell Buenz  Chris Dooks  Anne Gilchrist  Aileen Grant  Adele Gregory  Full Grown  Teresa Hunyadi  Aliisa Hyslop  Alan Kay  Rona MacLean  Kenris MacLeod  Tansy Lee Moir  David Mola  Steve Smart  Katherine Sola  Robin Wood

Exhibition opening event 1-4pm Saturday 11th November.

Exhibition open daily 11am – 6pm until Sunday 26th November.

Events during the exhibition run –  to be confirmed.

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a tree speaks

In November there will be an exhibition at St Margaret’s House in Edinburgh called Grown Together. Timed to coincide with the launch of the Tree Charter, this will feature the work of nineteen artists with a shared interest in trees.  I’ve been working on video material for a loop which will be part of a small installation.  The videos combine ambient audio captured in some local woodlands with animated  text and readings of some of my poems from the small collection called Drawing breath.

Here’s a test piece for one of my videos.  (Please ignore the headphone graphic near the start – it’s just there to indicate that there is audio to passing visitors).

The poem takes a tree’s-eye-view of passing humans, coming around to memory and how remembering works, or doesn’t…

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Leaf

A visual poem for National Poetry Day, and for autumn…

 


the balance

 

                              the balance

                                              Fair horizoned photographs
                from trig points and summit cairns
                                                      fine and airy breaths of sky,
                                                                                         but something
                                                                        remains unaccounted.
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                                                            The way was not crow-flown,
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                                                there was weather,
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                                                                        sweat was
                                                                        certainly involved,
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                                                                                        and, yes,
                                                                                               there were
                                                                               sore knees.

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Corbenic Poetry Path

We finally got around to visiting the Corbenic Poetry Path yesterday. The path is a delightful 3km walk through a variety of woodland, moorland and riverside habitats, around the periphery of the Corbenic Camphill Community near Dunkeld in Perthshire.

As the name suggests, poetry placed around the walk is part of the experience, and poems are placed at frequent intervals. Verses appear in the form of small post-top resin encapsulations, notices, and carvings on wood and stone. Some of these form sculptures well placed to work sensitively with the surrounding landscape, on a variety of scales. Sometimes the tone is contemplative, sometimes sombre, but also at times humorous and celebratory. Many of the works play with their specific locations, or refer to different aspects of the places in which they stand. There are also a number of sculptures, in materials both made and found, and even a sound installation (sample – note rainfall in background!).

There is a map on a panel near the (very small) car park, but the poetry path is dynamic – features do come and go. I think following the walk is enhanced by uncertainty about exactly what you might find next, but confidence that something unexpected will appear soon. Not knowing what is coming fosters a feeling of discovery, and I think that was part of the pleasure of our visit. The route of the walk itself is well made, charming and varied. Views across Perthshire from the walk are marvellous, often framed or emphasised by the artworks.

To be honest I had to look up ‘Corbenic’! Apparently in Arthurian myth it refers to the castle holding the Holy Grail. So perhaps, if this doesn’t sound too grand, ‘Corbenic’ can be taken to mean a location connected with a search for something of a nature which is both rare and has a spiritual dimension.

As I mentioned some poems are mounted on top of ‘poetry fence posts’ in resin blocks, the same size as the section of the posts, and about an inch thick. The small size requires a small point size of text which falls well below what is ideal for older eyes (…and, let’s face it, many of the poetry audience have been travelling on our personal grail quests for a whiley now…) These blocks had been glued on to the post ends, but (cue Scottish weather) this has not always proved a very firm anchor. Several were loose, and at least one was missing entirely, perhaps being repaired. However, all this is really a pretty minor bug-bear. But, when all is said and done, as well as a spiritual and artistic path, the walk is also route in the real world – change and erosion are inevitable!

It was a rainy day when we walked around, but given “appropriate clothing” I think the poetry path could be enjoyed in all but the worst of weather. As it was quiet, and RB and I went around on our own, we read some of the verses out loud as we went. I think this adds to the experience, as long as you don’t feel you might be irritating someone else. One advantage of a rainy day!

NB: Although the path is well made, some slopes would be hard for those with real difficulty walking. It is not suitable for wheelchair users.

Details and location