Last Sunday’s Shore Poets was one of those special occasions when the programme worked extremely well. The new poet was Lauren Pope, Californian-born but now resident in Scotland. I think she shows considerable promise for the future – she read some well-crafted work. The Shore Poet was Jim C Wilson, whose humorous and lugubrious delivery was well suited to his poetry. The music was provided by a duo of fiddlers – real toe-tapping stuff. The featured poet was Elisabeth Burns. Her performance was, as the MC said, spell-binding. She seems to me to demonstrate in her poetry the perfect balance of lyricism and acute intellect. She read beautifully, to a huge audience. She’s one of our best.
Last night I was reading Scottish and Irish poets, past and present, as part of an SWRI international night in West Lothian. With an attentive and appreciative audience of over 100, it was very special. It was great to get feedback later over the home baking, particularly from one lady who said it made her want to re-read Yeats. Another lady told me she was also a former pupil of Craiglockhart primary school in the time MacCaig taught there. I didn’t remember her, but she would have been in a different class, and An Older Woman. Small world. The home baking hasn’t done my waist line any good – I may have to lengthen my sporran chain – but it was a great night.
I’m looking forward to my own Shore Poets session at the end of April, but in the meantime I’ve had an approach about doing a shorter Edinburgh reading spot earlier that month. I’m not sure I should do it. Too close to the other one? Maybe a short ‘teaser’ spot? Pondering required.
One of the tunes the excellent 17-year old piper played last night in Polbeth was ‘The Bloody Fields of Flanders’, the tune to which Hamish Henderson set his ‘Freedom Come All Ye!’ internationalist anthem. I remember Hamish singing it at one of the Poems n Pints evenings in Edinburgh’s West End Hotel, and the memory sent a shiver down my spine.
It occurs to me I’m evolving into a kind of bridge between generations of Scottish poets. I knew and remember Hamish and Norman, and many others of that generation, but I also know and admire many others of today’s generation, and I’m always very keen to promote tomorrow’s fine poets.