Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Introducing the June 2008 Readers: 3. Jim Carruth

Jim Carruth has been described as Scotland’s leading rural poet and activist. He was born in Johnstone in 1963 and grew up on his parents' dairy farm. After spending a period in Turkey he returned to live in Renfrewshire. He is the chair of St Mungo's Mirrorball, a network of Glasgow-based poets and is an outreach committee member for the StAnza poetry festival.

His first collection Bovine Pastoral was runner-up in the Callum MacDonald Memorial Award in 2004. This was followed by High Auchensale (Ludovic Press 2006) and Cowpit Yowe (Ludovic Press 2008).

He has also collaborated with lino-cut artist Barbara Robertson on the illustrated fable Baxter's old ram sang the blues.

The Moleman’s Apprentice

surfaced one Friday night
at the village hall
and asked her to dance,
leading the way
through the crowded floor,
parting couples
who closed in tight
behind them.
All evening she stared
into his small eyes
felt his first beard
soft furred
against her face,
but now that’s not
what she remembers
nor his dirty long nails,
his spade-like hands,
his proud boasting
that in a first week
measured in pelts
he had plucked the dead
from their dark;
instead it’s the incident
near the end,
when some joker
flicked a switch
cut the power,
his shudder and scream
as the night snapped shut.

Taster number 1 - Mike Stocks
Taster number 2 - Eleanor Livingstone

Friday, 23 May 2008

Introducing the June 2008 Readers: 2. Eleanor Livingstone

Eleanor Livingstone lives in Fife. She has been widely published in the UK, Ireland and the US, and some of her poems are presently being translated into Lithuanian.
Recent publications include her chapbook collection, The Last King of Fife (HappenStance, 2005) and, as editor, Skein of Geese (The Shed Press/StAnza, 2008) and Migraasje: Versions in Scots and Shetlandic (Stravaigers, 2008).
She is Artistic Director of StAnza: Scotland's Poetry Festival.

how to watch a seagull die

The parent birds must build a nest
on the brick cliffs of our chimney stack
three hundred yards from the promenade;
and the first we’ll know of it will be
when two pompoms of grey fluff
land on the half roof overlooked
by the photocopier and the fax machine.

And though the mother gull
will dive at us, squawking every time
she sees us dart from car to office door,
we’ll watch as spring warms into summer
and the fledglings sleep and peck and flap their way
into adulthood, growing sleek grey feathers,
discarding the fluff of their infant lives.

Eyeing us through the glass, impatiently they’ll pace
the five square yards of roof, measuring by hops
and runs and wingspans, readying for take-off.
Then some fine morning, we’ll arrive to find one
not asleep but huddled, less, trying again
and again to shake his fractious feathers
into place; and again. All day

while the fax machine bleeps
and the photocopier hums away
we’ll watch from our side of the window
one eye on the clock, knowing that at five
we'll pull down the blinds, switch off
the photocopier and leave the office,
avoiding the eye of the waiting mother bird.

- Originally published in Magma.

Taster No. 1 - Mike Stocks

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Introducing the June 2008 Readers: 1. Mike Stocks

Mike Stocks is an Edinburgh-based author. His novel White Man Falling won the Goss First Novel Award. His latest novel, an adventure-thriller called Down Deep written under the pen name Mike Croft, is just out. His book of sonnets Folly was published in 2006, while his translations of the sonnets of Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli were published in 2007. He is the editor of the poetry magazine, Anon.

A woman

Was I the only one who saw her cry?
She crossed me on the Mile, eyes raw and low,
went slowly grieving past the Netherbow,
a self-contained but sobbing passerby.

Everybody’s father has to die,
though whether hers had died I wouldn’t know;
and lovers love us deeply, till they go,
but who’s to say if hers had gone, or why?

More likely, as you say, her tears were
for smaller causes than the ones I state---
though I’m the one who saw the then of her,

and paused before I walked to where I went,
not knowing who she was nor what it meant,
and watched her disappear down Canongate.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

2008-2009 Programme

Here's an updated programme for the Great Grog poetry readings in Edinburgh from now until February 2009. All events start at 8pm. The address is 43 Rose Street (take the first left going up Hanover Street. The Great Grog is thirty yards along the road)

I've given links to the June 2008 poets: websites of Kapka Kassabova, Mike Stocks and Jim Carruth, and Eleanor Livingstone's HappenStance page. I hope to have bios and poems coming soon to this site.

Sunday 8th June, 2008
Kapka Kassabova
Mike Stocks
Eleanor Livingstone
Jim Carruth

Sunday 14th September, 2008
Michael Schmidt
Helena Nelson
Dorothy Baird
Charlotte Runcie

Sunday 12th October, 2008
Kei Miller
Hamish Whyte
Rob A. Mackenzie
Alice Howlett

Sunday 9th November, 2008
A.B. Jackson
Colin Will
Patricia Ace
James W. Wood

Sunday 8th February 2009
Tim Turnbull
Andrew Philip
Andrew Shields
Alan Gay

and coming after that (among others) - Claire Crowther, Kevin Cadwallender, Brian Johnstone, Ivy Alvarez, Julia Rampen etc.

And previously at the Great Grog:

Sunday 11th May, 2008
Alan Gillis
Sally Evans
Barbara Smith
Claire Askew

Sunday 13th April, 2008
Tom Pow
Joy Hendry
Margaret Christie
Elizabeth Gold

Sunday 10th February 2008
Cheryl Follon
Hazel Frew
Alexander Hutchison
Christie Williamson

Sunday 4th November 2007
Roddy Lumsden
AB Jackson
Andrew Philip
Rob A Mackenzie

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Report on the 11th May Event

I really enjoyed myself on Sunday evening. I’d met up with Barbara Smith earlier and we walked for miles around the city centre and the Royal Mile.

All four readers – Barbara Smith, Claire Askew, Sally Evans and Alan Gillis – were terrific. Another night of contrasts. Barbara read with an easy-going warmth and went down very well. Claire didn't show a trace of nerves if she had any and impressed everyone I spoke to. Sally read sections from her new long poem, 'The Bees', which involves bees, elephant-artists and hotdogs - a real feat of imagination. Alan Gillis served up sonic fireworks with an emotional core, poems that look outwards. He's a fantastic reader.

Some of the readers and audience migrated afterwards to The Standing Order in George Street until around 1.30am. It was about 2.30 before I got to bed, but there's no reason to regret any of it, despite my tiredness the next day.

Apprentice has blogged about the evening. Good to hear people enjoyed it.

Sally Evans reports on it as well.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Introducing the May 2008 Readers: 3. Sally Evans

Sally Evans lived in Edinburgh for many years where she developed Poetry Scotland broadsheet . Sally and Ian now live in Callander and continue to publish diehard poetry books. Sally's new book is a long poem, The Bees, and she is delighted to read from it in her old stamping ground, at the Great Grog .

Hares in Camp (from The Great North Road)

The dandelion clocks are closed.
A stir of wind will open them
and April showers will weigh them down
to wet flock, their pink hollow stems
oozing white stain like setting glue
that blackens children's hands.

Hares' bold paws bounce.
They are bound by spring
to race round acres in a ring,
to box and feint and frighten horses,
to impress their cousins, trump their mates
with poetry performances

we cannot emulate
as we lean on the wooden fence
beside our footpath, watching them
in their arena shared with gods
and Romans, this field still marked out
a playing-card game for their courses.

You can read another poem of Sally’s, That Moment, in Juliet Wilson’s Bolts of Silk blogzine.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Introducing the May 2008 Readers - 2. Barbara Smith

Barbara Smith lives in Louth, Ireland with her partner, dividing her time between raising six children, teaching Creative Writing and completing an MA in CW at Queen’s University, Belfast. Her debut collection, Kairos, was published in 2007 by Doghouse Books.

Famous Nude by Picasso

Today, I point two firm melons
at you. You latch on, voraciously,
..............Later, I let you begin,
fine-tuning looking for your
favourite signal coming through.

But then, wanton takes over,
turns us about, directs things awhile -
furious porphry almost wholly
out of grasp.

Then we go home
and have a nice cup of tea.

(First published nthposition, July 2004)