Poetry and Place

My new collection (have I mentioned before that my new collection, The floorshow at the Mad Yak Café, is available from Red Squirrel Scotland?) contains poems set in China, Tibet, Italy, Lithuania, the Caucasus, and Scotland (of course), and in the internal landscapes of human relationships. The previous collection – Sushi & Chips – had a section reflecting a trip to Japan, and my second collection – Seven Senses – was largely concerned with spirit of place.

So place matters to me; it’s an important element in my choice of things to write about. It’s not the only thing, I hasten to add. I’m influenced by painting, sculpture, theatre, music, and the sciences I’ve studied in depth (list supplied on request). And above all by people. But place is there.

Some poets have written exclusively about a single place, their own country, their own home – original or adopted. It’s true that I often come back to Scotland’s variety and beauty as inspirations for my poetry, but the novelties experienced abroad are potent triggers for poems: active volcanoes in Iceland, WWI battlefields in France and Belgium, a concentration camp in the Czech Republic. It’s usually not an immediate reaction; sometimes poems will emerge years after an adventure. I’m off to Southern Italy soon, and I’ve no idea what will come from that.

What about you? Does place matter to you? What places feature in your writing?


About sunnydunny

Poet, publisher, gardener
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7 Responses to Poetry and Place

  1. Jim Murdoch says:

    I have very few poems about specific places. In my last blog I talk about a poem I wrote about Edinburgh and one from Aberdeen but that’s about it. In both places through it was the emotions that were the real source of inspiration and not the location. Every time I try and write about a place I end up with something derivate at best and plain hokey at worst. So I tend to stick to what I do best and leave descriptive poetry to people who are naturals at it.

  2. sunnydunny says:

    Thanks Jim. I think I tend to use the descriptions of places to point up some aspect of the human condition. At least that’s what I like to imagine I do.

  3. sorlil says:

    The Firth of Clyde features largely in my poems as well as my local landscape. I thinks there is something inherently mysterious about the Scottish landscape that makes it a great backdrop to poems!

  4. Andy Jackson says:

    I find myself drawn to the lost city of my adolescence (Manchester), as if it’s a sort of Elephant’s Graveyard and I’ll one day go back there to die! Also very enchanted by the Orkneys although still haven’t really nailed the poem I have about that magical place.

    I’m an urbanist, mostly (whatever that is!) in that I am more inspired by cities and the people who inhabit them than by the countryside.

  5. sunnydunny says:

    I can understand the Firth of Clyde, sorlil. I love the way the light changes things.

    Andy: I was born and grew up in Edinburgh, and I also lived in Glagow, but I can’t stand cities now – I’m in and out as quick as I can go, like a ferret down a rabbit-hole. I’ve written some bad poems about Orkney, still waiting for the good one.

  6. Dick says:

    An interesting question. Place is a crucial element in my writing. The landscapes, topographical and local, of my childhood are a constant presence, either providing specific context or informing atmosphere. And now that I’m living in unmanicured countryside I find I’m responding constantly to the age-old tides and currents of the seasons.

  7. Rachel Fox says:

    Much as I love to walk outdoors I’m sure the places that haunt me for writing purposes are indoor rooms…sitting rooms, bedrooms, old bedsits, dark and dingy old all-night establishments…they come around and around…

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