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…
Trees can be very big, and some of them are very old. Their character and way of life is complex, in many ways hidden, and very different from our own. They can make us pause and they can make us gasp.
drawing breath is a collection of twelve poems arising from a collaboration with visual artist Tansy Lee Moir.
I’ve made booklet with the poems, some photographs, and some of Tansy’s drawings, and I’ve also made a series of recordings of readings. Hope you like them!
You can find links to all of these and more about our collaboration here.
A portrait of our times as peat
Rain upon rain tilthed loam,
levelled to pudding black lake,
a dark carboniferous hag
of uncertain depth and liquidity.
Too far for giant leaping.
Is there a submarine step
sunk safe a pace ahead?
Perhaps – there often is, or
so they say.
This piece (words, sound, image) was made in response to a New Scientist article by Jessica Hamselou about studies by researchers at the University of St Andrews, and the University of Western Ontario into the phenomenon of déjá vu.
You read more about the science in Jessica’s fascinating article online at New Scientist.
My reading and the poem are below, click on the wee tiny thumbnail for a larger version of the image.
In the UK, if you’re over fifty, every couple of years you receive an excellent little test kit from the National Health Service. It does rather bring you down to basics. Before continuing can I raise a quick cheer for cancer screening. I know it’s a faff, but really, it does make sense – so if you’re in the age range and you’re contacted by a screening programme where you live, I would encourage you to get over the ick factor, and get on with it 🙂 !
Although the kit does come with excellent instructions, you do have to figure out your own method for some of the fine details (so to speak). I suspect that the kit has probably seldom been an inspiration for poetry, but I have always found the versatility of cardboard a very marvellous thing…
The same cloth
Dragon chewed edges chart
My cardboard construction skills,
Once creased castles to house plastic
Knights and errant imaginations.
Or a two foot Arc Royal flat-top as,
Floor bound navigators on our knees,
We projected playtime power.
The throne of easement today requires a
Temporary transom to stage my fifty something
Three day perforated tournament of poo sticks.
So salvaged corrugated cardboard,
Will again be pressed to unfold a counter,
And jury-rig a diagnostic flight deck.
My rhumb lines of luck or doubt.
About screening for bowel cancer in UK:
Bowel cancer screening UK (includes a very helpful video)
Your temporary absence
reminds me of others.
I hold it in the
Muscles of my arms,
Upper and fore, and
Across my chest.
My hands shape
A lack of you.
Of my other absences,
Some are final.
Still others, simply
Fallen out of touch.
Out of contact. So,
I dream them well.
In holding your absence,
I weigh the rest.
Empty specimen tube
Only the glass and a label remain,
Hand inked and underscored in 1898,
Now discoloured, cracked and torn:
KING of the HERRING
Chimae … monserosa
Great Fisher Bank. 1898
Lord of darlings,
Bright as salt burnished silver.
Ozymandias of the herring kind.