Last night betook me to the Shore Poets gig in Edinburgh’s Mai Thai. It was one of those nights to remember – good readings, a sense of occasion, and nice things happening on the periphery.
The new poet was Debbie Cannon – a likeable set, well read. The Shore Poet was Diana Hendry – always good to listen to her witty, charming, thoughtful and well-crafted poems. The featured poet last night was Jacob Polley, whom I’d read but not met before. He’s got a good strong poetic voice, and he uses language well. An unexpected connection between Diana and Jacob is the Cumbrian poet William (Bill) Scammell, who died last year. Jacob read one of Bill’s poems. He also read a poem of his own about rain, a feature of Lake District life I remember well from when I lived and worked there in my youth. This connected, I’m sure serendipitously, with the next event, the Mark Ogle Memorial Award.
Mark Ogle was a stalwart of Shore Poets from its inception until his tragically early death from cancer some years back. His family have generously supported an unusual award in Mark’s memory. Each year a poet who has read at Shore Poets in the previous year is commissioned to write a new poem inspired by one of Mark’s, and to read it in public. This year the Ogle poem was ‘English Rain’, and the commissioned poet, Angus Peter Campbell (now living in Skye) read his own beautiful and moving poem about rain in his native Uist. A lovely event. Later I mentioned to Brian Johnstone that he, Mark and myself are linked through publication of poems in an anthology of Scottish mountain poems – Things Not Seen – edited by Stuart B. Campbell.
In the intervals I also had the chance to catch up with Anne Connolly, one of the 2008 Calder Wood Press poets. And I took delivery from Eleanor Livingstone of the brand new anthology – Skein of Geese; poems from The 100 Poets Gathering, StAnza 2007. That was a memorable Festival for many reasons, not least of which was getting 103 poets to read a poem each over the course of a five hour session in St Andrews. So now, even if you weren’t there, you can get a flavour of this fantastic event by buying the book for the very reasonable price of £5. I’ll post details later.
Following on from my thoughts of posting previously published but out-of-print poems, I’ve grasped the nettle and started a new blog – Colin’s Poems. The first post is the long poem – The flowers of Scotland.