I left Glencanisp early this morning and drove home to Sunny Dunny, so I’m rather tired, but I’ll just say now that it was wonderful, and that if any other writers are thinking about retreats, then the Assynt one is terrific. A lot of the time was spent walking in Assynt, finding the places Norman MacCaig had written poems about. He didn’t write them in Assynt, but when he was home in Edinburgh, so it’s all the more remarkable that when he described a place, it was exactly as he said it was. There have been many changes since the poems were written, but there’s much in the landscape that remains. It’s still a wild and beautiful place.
The bulk of the time was spent in writing. I surprised myself by writing six poems about Suilven in as many days. All the writers from the retreat read at a session of the Ullapool Book Festival chaired by Andrew Greig. We each spoke about MacCaig and his influence, read two of his poems, then some of the work written during the week. The session in The Ceilidh Place was packed, and the audience was very appreciative. Mandy Haggith was the retreat organiser (round of deserved applause), and a participant in her own right. I’ll be back, as someone once said.