Tag Archives: poetry

Walking out the words

Back in December I posted about The Curlew publishing one of my poems called ‘Horizoned’. Recently the editor got in touch with me to ask about using the poem for some teaching she is planning, and if I could record something about my motivation in making this kind of poem. I was delighted to do this of course, but I thought it might be fun to try to show something about what goes into some of my ‘wandering’ poems.

Really I wanted to take people on a wee walk, because there is something about being there (and getting there!) that is essentially important. An aspect of embodied poetry perhaps.

There’s a long tradition of walking poets – the Wordsworths and Bashō prominent among them. When I googled about the topic I found some fantastic work by Mike Collier of the University of Sunderland which is well worth a look.

Here is my wee piece, with a reading at the end. I tried to cover the questions of what and why seriously, but answering using images, sound and physical effort(!) as well as words. I hope the result is entertaining as well as informative…

.

.
More posts about walking.

.


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

 


Slow dance

I’ve been giving my Soundcloud site a little attention.  There are one or two earlier recordings there, but I’ve also just uploaded a reading of a short new poem called ‘Slow Dance’.

I wrote this as part of a short writing course I attended recently at Dundee University given by the excellent Lindsay MacGreggor (Lindsay has just published a new pamphlet called ‘Weepers’)

.

.

.

 


Poetry Map of Scotland, poem 131: Balumbie, near Dundee

Thanks to Stanza for adding my poem ‘Developing’ to the Poetry Map of Scotland.

the StAnza Blog

Developing

“So Boo,” I whisper, “are we the old guard now?”

Boo glances at me then turns,
To sample a palimpsest of recent smells.
Food, mate, rival, friend, foe, fear, but definitely –
Food.

~

We out-flank Elm Gardens and Lime Grove,
On our own retreat from Moscow,
Rusting gorgets and ragged overcoats,
Shamefaced in the morning damps,
As we scatter dew drops from cobwebs,
Before suburbia stirs awake.

Silvered traces fade camouflaged
Dazzled under slick tar macadam
But I can still glimpse some prior paths
Still trace glinting scents of earlier intentions.

The rhody walk now rose-bayed over
Was once a road to her absent Mandalays.
A peripheral sniffer regularly hesitant,
By the sponge soft sequoia sequoia.
Hoodie damp, behaviour uncertain,
Prospects – not good.

Target spears like checkered survey pins
Chased with homecoming penants
Snap over freshly hoovered turf.
Yellow on green: please repair.

When they broke ground…

View original post 202 more words


Vote! Vote! Vote!

BTo my delight and surprise, I’m once again shortlisted in Stanza’s Digital Slam.

My entry this year is a reading of ‘Butterfly Mind in Blue’. The poem was partly inspired by an amazing specimen in the Bell Pettigrew Museum in St Andrews, but, of course, it is about more than that.

You can see all the entries and vote here (‘Butterfly Mind in Blue’ is number 9!)

If you feel compelled to tell every person you know to drop in and vote, who am I to stop you ?!

.

.

.


Poetry class

20131109-181226.jpgI went to a poetry class with John Burnside this morning in St Andrews. The topic was writing about wonder. Class was excellent, very inspiring, lots of ideas for ‘further reading’, an interesting group of people who knew shedloads more than I did, and many thoughts about what works and what doesn’t.

Time to get down to some more writing!


A pibroch on Craigowl

gate-trim-1At Prieston there is a binary gate
Of ten inputs:
Many locks, many keys
And many combinations,
Only any one of which is required.
An Ur OR-gate:
Case open or shut.

But just beside
This logic of admittance
A grand big stone sits quietly by
Styling the fence
For any curious pedestrian.

Continue reading