Category Archives: wanderings

Well met

I’ve been reading a remarkable book called The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World by David Abram. It’s a study in ecological philosophy that seeks to examine and understand world views of cultures that don’t separate human consciousness and the natural world. Frankly, it’s not always been the easiest read – I’m afraid my slow brain does have to chug over some paragraphs several times to make sense of them! However, it’s been worth it. Mostly I’ve found it invigorating, and I’d recommend it.

This short poem is about a kind of encounter which most of us might have had sometime, perhaps often if we are lucky. This (and other meetings like this) played in my thoughts a lot while I was reading David Abram’s book. I see this poem as a meeting between two very different minds in the same domain (i.e. not between ‘a human and nature’). It might be commonplace – it certainly was once. It’s slight, but (I hope) there is more to it than meets the eye.

Well met

Where the fireweed straggles
after the arch of the viaduct

I met the deer in an accident
we closed quietly.

A young doe looking up without
alarm to a slow moment

we measure in-between –
calm breaths elongating

our horizon – until unworried
she turns and walks away.

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weel kent

 a field prepared for sowing

Last week I attended an interesting workshop by Alycia Pirmohamed, a Canadian-born poet based in the UK, and the winner of the 2020 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award. The online event was part of Shetland Arts Wordplay 2021, and focused on ideas about landscape in poetry.

One of the writing exercises involved about envisaging a recent walk, and in another part of the workshop we studied a passage from Schizophrene – a ‘fragmented notebook’ by Bhanu Kapil. The passage made use of a lot of parentheses and, amongst other things, we talked about how this changed the way in which a reader interacted with the text.

Off the back of some of these ideas, and echoing a little with some of my previous forays into interactive poetry, I did a little coding and came up with a draft piece using a system of interactive parentheses. I know – bonkers! Anyhoo, it is called weel kent which is basically Scots for ‘very familiar’.

As with most of these interactive experiments, I can’t embed it here in the blog, but you can view it by tapping the button below which will open a new web page.

Like a quite lot of my pieces, weel kent is intended to be wry more than very serious.

Once you get there, if you tap square brackets [] in the text, each parentheses will expand to reveal their own content. That stays for a little while, then fades away. If you tap again, it appears again, and so on…

weel kent was quite a quickly compiled experiment. It might have been interesting to play around with layout a little as well. Perhaps this could have reflected the form of the short walk described. However, while a web page is good for interactivity, print is a much easier medium to play fluidly with layout. Next time maybe…


ramble

Is this a prose poem? Maybe, I’m not sure, but it is a little story.

Not much happens, but I think poetry can sometimes be about the little stuff, can’t it?

ramble

Have you seen a lama?
Well, yes, though not today.
…..My first was secured
………near a phonebox, somewhere
……………….in France, I think.

…………But no, his hand-space signals
………..only a substantial got-away
…….trout held up for imaginary inspection.

………A toy?
……………Yes, we –
……………………….(indicating trailing downhearted child)
………………………– lost it, probably somewhere near the top.

……..I’m fairly good at spotting
…..medium-fish sized anomalies, but
………..Afraid I didn’t see it.
……………I say, pausing.
………………….What colour is it?
……………………….Light, sort of cream.
…………Which yes, I suppose, is
……………………………………lama-like.

………………I’ll keep a look out.
………..Then passing last,
…………….hooded laddie intense:
………………..Let us know if you find it.
…………………..regret is sharp in focus,
………………..requiring promises:
…………………………………………..I will!

………….Lower down the dog walk
…….Mum and younger sister
………………………………gather blaeberries, waiting
………….with the brown lab who,
………………..being dog, is stressed
…….because the family is now here
……………………………………………………and there,
……………………..not simply here.

……..She (the dog) prefers strawberries
………..(when available)
………………..and frets quietly sitting
……………………while I reminisce about (good old) Boo
…………..who liked to graze here once-upon-a.

…………..I confirm my low lama score
………………..paced in-between.
.……………………I hope they find it. I say so.
………………………………………………As I turn to walk on,

………………Mum spots figures in the distance
……..They’re coming back,
.
…………looks like he’s got something
.
…………………………………..in his hand.

…………I didn’t see, but my mind’s eye
………………optimistically glimpsed
…………………………..something far off,
……………....……..camelid shaped, perhaps
………………………………..softly woolly,
………………………………cream clutched safe,
…………………………in tight silence.


Cup and ring

cup and ring illustration

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Cup and ring marks are a kind of carved rock art or petroglyph. They are found widely in both Mediterranean Europe and across north western Europe, including Scotland. As with so many prehistoric artworks, their intention and meaning are far from clear. They consist of a central indentation surrounded by concentric grooves of carved circles. Like a tiny map, or a labyrinth for the hand, they seem to invite touch.

The place where I was when I had the idea for this poem does not have such a mark (that I know of), but the poem is connected with thoughts about their meaning.

 

Cup and ring

(a benediction)

Turning at this middle stone mark
Driesh and Mayar, Dun Hillock,
Tom Buidhe, Tomount, Monega, Maols, and Claise,
Fafernie, t-Sagairt Mòr, and Bannock,
Broad Cairn, Lochnagar, Meikle Pap,
and Broadlands
back again.
 
While the wind spits grey break rumours,
this little top lees a cup of sun:
be warm and happit here a sitting moment,
brim hill-flask full,
short sweet napped, 
rest still as quiet ground
in a place well met.

 


go-around

StAnza Poetry Map of ScotlandDelighted to have my poem go-around placed on StAnza’s Poetry Map of Scotland. They located the pin for this poem perfectly on the exact spot between the hills of Glas Maol and Creag Leacach where this encounter happened.

Read the poem and check the map here.

WordPress tells me this is my 200th post on subjects, objects, verbs – hooray!

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