Monday, 28 April 2008

Introducing the May 2008 Readers: 1. Claire Askew

Here’s a brief bio and poem from Claire Askew, one of four poets reading at the Great Grog on Sunday May 11th.

Claire Askew’s work has appeared in Brittle Star, Pomegranate and the Glasgow Herald, and is forthcoming in the Edinburgh Review, Textualities and Snakeskin. She is the Editor in Chief of the 'Read This,' a magazine which encourages submissions from new and young writers. Claire was awarded the Grierson Verse Prize 2008 and the Lewis Edwards Award for Poetry 2008, and was also joint-winner of the Sloan Prize for a short story in Lowland Scots.

Built in

I am still in here, despite the siege. Still here,
behind the maze of scaffolding and duckboards -
business almost as usual, though I daren't leave.

I watch the men through the drawn blind like TV,
as they paint over the rotting windowframes,
drink tea from flasks, sandblast, dig up pipes outside.

I keep the windows locked, just in case - paranoid,
I hide the jewellery box . On cold days, they slither
about on the slats, four floors up - a precarious ballet.

Some nights, I like to haul myself through
the wet window with a steaming cup, and sway
on the scaffold, scaring myself. I can choose -

to look out over the rainy slates, streetlights, the stretch
of council yards, or plunge. (Cobbles wink in the alley
below, its discarded mattress a festering fall-breaker.)

But it will be gone soon, this crows' nest, climbing-frame
for drunks, this cage. They will come in the morning,
wake me early, and pack it away, whistling.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Great Grog: May 2008 Line-Up

I had originally planned to bypass May at the Great Grog, skipping straight to the 8th June. However, there now will be a Great Grog gig in May!

The date will be Sunday 11th May from 8pm. And the programme is excellent so far:

Alan Gillis (his latest collection, 'Hawks and Doves', was nominated for this year's TS Eliot Prize)
Sally Evans (editor of Poetry Scotland and author of several collections, including her latest, "The Bees," just out)
Barbara Smith (debut collection, 'Kairos', was published by Doghouse Press last year)

There will be one other reader, still to be arranged. Looks good already though! More information e.g. bios, poems etc will arrive here over the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Reviews and a New Date

Its been good to read blog reactions to the last gig at the Great Grog, particularly as they have been so positive. It was a superb evening and, if you missed it, you can read reports from Andrew Philip, Colin Will, and my inevitable fluff on Surroundings.

The next gig was going to be on Sunday 8th June, and that is still on. However, I can now reveal that there will be an extra date, on Sunday 11th May 2008! The line-up? Well, I’m still working on that, but I hope to have everything finalised very soon…

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Introducing the April 2008 Readers - 4. Joy Hendry

Joy Hendry edits Chapman - Scotland's Quality Literary Magazine and is also a poet, playwright, critic and broadcaster, appearing regularly particularly on radio and has given lectures on various cultural subjects all over the world. Over the years, she has become involved in many cultural movements - the campaign for a Scottish Parliament, the National Theatre, the Scots Language movement and generally agititates for anything she believes beneficial to Scotland and her cultural wellbeing.

For this compulsive activity and meddling, she was given an Honorary D Litt by Edinburgh University in 2005. Though her activities have recently been restricted due to chronic fatigue syndrome, which she has been fighting for 10 years, she is now anxious to get back much more into the public arena.

Waving and . . .
(PEN Conference, Dubrovnik, 1993)

What of poetry, of writers?
What of hopeful waving
from war-struck friends who hope so much of us?
In Dubrovnik of the shattered roofs
the fight remains.

We are there to listen,
and tell the world
by power of pen
the everyday tales of war.

Tinny transistors blare
like in every Scottish shop
for footabll cup finals.
But here the news
is not of goals, but new bombs
and victims
in Zadar.

We listen.
And everybody knows
the barbed frontiers of despair,
the black edge of drunkenness,
or abandonment, or hysteria,
or the access of conscience.
We listen. Maybe we will write,
or say, something?

In the midst of all this death
we hold hands, kissing, as if tenderness
were the only way to hold the world together.

And part,
as if, like the world,
we know nothing about how
to solve
this awful

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Sunday 13th April, 8pm

Designed by and © Ian McCaig, 2008.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Introducing the April 2008 Readers - 3. Margaret Christie

The third poet reading at the Great Grog Bar on 13th April is Margaret Christie. Her bio and poem is below:

Margaret Christie’s first collection, The Oboist’s Bedside Book, was published by HappenStance in 2007. Margaret lives in Edinburgh and is a member of Pomegranate Women’s Writing Group.


inside the grass, the hill

inside the bark, the tree

out of blackness, the tree
gives birth
to greenness

inside the grass, the hill

inside the sun, whiteness

inside the earth