Way back (well it seems way back) in the late 1990s I self-published a set of poetry cards. That was actually why and when I set up Calder Wood Press, so in retrospect it was A Good Thing. The primary motivation was simply that I’d found out how to do it, and the secondary one was that I wanted to publish a long poem – The Flowers of Scotland – as an anniversary gift to the Botanical Society of Edinburgh. So that was the first one. After that came Painted Fruits – poems written in response to an art exhibition at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (where I was working); then Roundabout Livingston, poems set in Midcalder and Livingston (where I was living), and finally Landings, poems from a holiday in a converted pigeonnier in Normandy.
The cards were self-contained, and the poems have never featured in any of my collections, because I felt that there might be a conflict of interest, if you like, between my self-published work and the collections diehard have published. I was looking at them the other day, for the first time in years, and I was still quite happy with some of them – they’ll do. The cards are now out of print; I made my printing costs back, and then gave the rest away at readings. If I ever, at some stage in the future, do a Collected Poems, they should go in it, but in the meantime, what should I do with them? I’ll maybe put some of them on my personal website, but I’ll blog them to start with. Here’s the first one, Dogwood fruit: it contains some little-known facts about dogwood:
Circe broadcast the bright berries which,
snouted by Ulysses’ crew,
produced their swinish transformation.
Still, if truffles elude, dogwood’ll do.
Boiled to jam, or seethed and strained
to syrup – dogwood rob – it soothes
and cures; vinified, as Cornoulle wine,
and taken often, proves
that pigs can fly.