Tomorrow I head off to St Andrews for the StAnza Poetry Festival, which I’m really looking forward to. This year the problem issue is a possible rail strike, which might affect participants and audiences alike at the weekend. We’ve made contingency plans, but I hope they’re not needed. I was through in St Andrews at the weekend for a final committee meeting and an opportunity to meet the volunteers, without whom the Festival could not run.
Before I go, I’ve got to nip down to Northumberland to pick up a second batch of seed potatoes for the Amisfield walled garden. The farm is in a really attractive bit of countryside, between the Tweed and the Till, so I don’t mind the drive; it just cuts down my free time, and I’m frazzling a bit.
Off to the Scottish Poetry Library tonight for a meeting of the Poetry Book Group. We’re talking about Seamus Heaney’s District and Circle tonight, and I’ll be interested to hear what other folk think of the poems. I think it’s both more playful and more assured than his last collection, and many of the poems look outward rather than inward. As a collection, it works for me, but maybe it’s not as adventurous as some of the other works shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize – which he won.
Speaking of winning things, I’ve just heard that my friend Gerry Loose has won a Creative Scotland Award to spend a year in an oak wood in the West of Scotland, and to write about it. To my mind he comes closer to embodying the spirit of Basho than anyone else I know. This has got me thinking now: If Gerry’s Basho, and Larry Butler’s Han Shan, who is Alan Spence? Who are my other Zen poet friends? Who am I? (I think maybe the dog who says mu, or the pen which digs).