Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Time For Renewal

After the winds came snow, and then more wind, then rain, and then frost. This snowman was the first of a family of snow people my husband made for our grand-daughter.

Now we are getting ready for Christmas. We'll be seeing all the children on Christmas Day, and then hopefully, going south for a family party in Chesterfield, and coming back for New Year.

Next year is time for big changes. On a mundane level, this computer, which has served me pretty well for five years, is now showing its age. It coughs and splutters whenever anything updates, and none of the new software is talking to any of the old stuff. It's time to move on. So if there's a bit of a lull over the next three weeks or so, you will know I am wrestling with Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010, and wondering just where I backed everything up.

In the garden, there won't be too much upheaval, but I'll be consolidating some of the changes I made last year, getting to understand the greenhouse and veg patch better, and adding some fruit bushes. I'm learning a bit mre about the birds in the garden, too, moving the bird feeders away from the flight path of the sparrowhawk, and creating nest-spaces for wrens - possibly my favourite garden bird. According to the fascinating A-B-Tree project run by Mandy Haggith at Cybercrofter, wrens like to nest in bramble thickets, because of the difficulty predators have in getting through the tangles. I can't imagine I'll get away with planting brambles in the garden, but we do have some very thorny and tangled wild roses, and this

juniper, just about as impenetrable as any small bird could want. You can see all the A-B-Tree posts here.

This year has been a hard one, with some problems coming to a head, some major milestones reached, some big changes made. Some people think that 2012 is going to be a year of major upheaval for the whole world, but apparently the Mayan prophecy is not meant to be about the end of time, but about the renewal of life. I wish all my friends, family and readers of this blog a happy Christmas holiday, and a peaceful time for renewal, refreshment and joy.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Hurricane Bawbag

Ok there's no snow. But do you see the greenhouse windows?

Those two lower panes blew out. They went up, over the top of the greenhouse, and landed one here

and one on top of the herbs. And they are completely undamaged. I have no idea how this could be possible. I've stacked them in the gulley between the garden and the house and I hope the wind doesn't get them there.

The Steel Garden by Lorna Waite

I am particularly interested in the links between landscape and languages and communities. It comes up in my work a fair bit - particularly poems like Goes Without Saying and the Eurydice sequence, (it will be all over the Territory of Rain poems too) and I dealt with the topic in my review of Christine de Luca's North End of Eden published in the March issue of Northwords Now, which you can read here.

At first glance you wouldn't think Lorna Waite's poetry had much in common with Christine de Luca's. It is grittily urban, unashamedly acadeemic, and quite possibly the most committed political and philosphical poetry in Scotland since MacDiarmid (whose work it vividly recalls). But what both poets are saying is that the life and heart of a community is in the way it inhabits its own particular hills, mountains, fields, rivers and coasts, the work by which people earn their living, the art they create, the lives they remember and the language they develop to tell their own stories.

Just as Christine de Luca's poetry deals with isolated island communities, but transcends nostalgia and romanticism, Lorna Waite records the devastation of post-industrial urban communities without portraying them as victims. The people of Kilbirnie are not statistics, social studies or pupppets of a callous economic system, they are a vibrant creative community, expressing themselves through steel and sculpture, stories and music. These are poems about strength, not weakness; they are angry at defeat, not mourning a loss.

There is mourning here, however,and there are also more personal poems. If the feminist slogan was 'the personal is political', Lorna Waite demonstrates that the political is most profoundly personal, not to say passionate. She engages with social changes, clearances, migration and the class war through her friendships, family, archaeology and, in a profound and fascinating way, through her relationship with hill, burn, mountain and woodland, and with Gaelic.

I don't think I can do this book justice. This poetry is completely outside my comfort zone, it doesn't have much of what I usually demand of a poem, and I'm only just beginning to get to grips with all that does have. But, like Neruda, Lorna Waite is a poet I can see myself coming back to again and again. Go read it, and tell me what you think. You won't be sorry.

The Steel Garden is published by Word Power Books.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Frost and Fire

still winter evening
seeds and gardeners pause, withdraw,
frost outside, fire within

Thursday, 1 December 2011

High Tide on the Forth

All the rain earlier this week has soaked the ground and caused the river to burst its banks. This isn't the worst it's ever been by a long way, but look how deep the water is around those trees.

Life is fairly complicated right now. When you're one of a large family and you marry into a large family, there's always someone doing something interesting, from art exhibitions and gigs to picketing (we are all pro the Public Workers - and indeed I don't know anyone who isn't) or getting ill or needing help with stuff. But that's why the blog has been quiet. It will probably be quiet again next week while I wrestle with the NHS and the grand-daughter's Christmas shows - two of them, and she's only four. There are some heavy-duty performing genes in this family!

Today, however, the sun is shining, the house is peaceful and the winter jasmine is in full glorious flower. And I may even write some poetry, once the kitchen is clean!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

New look web-site

The Burnedthumb website has has a make-over, and as well as the enhanced design -courtesy of Naomi Rimmer it includes a couple of new pages, an updated links page (that's where all the links from here went) and some different poetry. You can access it from the image on the sidebar.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

The Book is Launched

A picture, taken by my sister Margaret, at the quadruple booklaunch organised by Red Squirrel Press for Wherever We Live Now, along with Anne Connolly's first full collection, Love-in-a-Mist, and pamphlets by Marion Montgomery (Lyart),and Pippa Little (Snow Globe), at Blackwells in Edinburgh on Tuesday. Red Squirrel must be the most dynamic publishing firm on the face of the planet!

It was a great night. With four of us, there were plenty of people there, and the poetry was varied and excellent. I've always liked Anne's poetry since her pamphlet Downside Up was published by Calderwood Press, but Marion's and Pippa's was new to me - though you can find enough of Pippa's work on line to get the flavour. My family was out in force. My husband and children were there, but my nephew, currently at Edinburgh university, came too, but my sister came from Liverpool and my mother-in-law made the long and complicated train journey from Malvern (no mean feat when you are eighty-six and using a crutch to get about). My good friend Norman Bissell came from Luing which was a great honour. Without Norman, who organised the Atlantic Island Festival and introduced me to the HI-Arts Creative Development programme, I don't suppose there would ever have been a book at all.

I read a couple of archaeology poems, a plant poem, an Irish poem and three Orpheus poems. It was good to see them in a book, with an independent life of their own. After all the euphoria and disillusionment of composition, revision, submitting and acceptance, it was fun to read them as if they had been written by someone else entirely. It was a pleasant room and Blackwell's staff were very kind and hospitable.

I'm not sure, however, that the highlight of the evening wasn't later, when we went to the Elephant House for food, and my sister and mother-in-law discovered the JK Rowling connection. It really made the night!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

What You Should Know to be a Poet

I pinched this title from Gary Snyders poem What You Should Know to be a Poet
which is a poem I found very inspiring when I came back to poetry (for about the fifth time - I used to describe myself as a recidivist poet). The point Snyder was making was that poetry had to be grounded in a deep understanding of the world around us, firstly the material facts, but also the way other humans feel about it and relate to it. Snyder's poems often read easy, but they are actually very scholarly in an extraverted way that is completely different from the narcissistic complaining or self-satisfaction that tempts those of us who spend a lot of time looking inside our own heads for stuff to work with.

But then we have to think of the kind of "knowing" we are looking for. I've been spending some time with geek poets, mostly bird-watchers. I'm interested in birds but I hate twitchers with their ticks on their life-lists and their macho competing to see some poor creature which is only here because it's lost. Frankly I'm only interested in people who love what they're doing, so the geek poets really give me pleasure even before I read the poems.

David Morley  is an ecologist by background, and it shows. His poems are full of exact species names (not always Latin) and technical terms, and he avoids romantic and anthropomorphic responses to the fish, dragonflies and birds he writes about. Observations are detailed
                        "head-butting the surface to see
at eyelash-level the whiphands of Common Backswimmers surge
and sprint, each footing a tiny dazzle to prism."(Dragonflies)

but delighted (a perfect combination in my book). But it's not all about the creatures. There's a balanced debate about the conservation movement in Proserpina, and a reminder that climate change is not a new thing to the earth, however cataclysmic it feels to us, in The Lucy Poem.

This section of the book "Fresh Water" is only the first; there re two other sections dealing with Romany tales including Hedgehurst which reminds me a lot of Tim Atkins' Folklore, and with poems about the circus. I think I may say more about them when I've got into Morley's earlier books. They deal with alienation and estrangement and take me into territory I'd like to know more about.

Matt Merritt, however, feels to be on very familiar ground. The poems are intensely visual, and his detailed knowledge and love of birds is obvious - Loons, Ringing Redstarts, and Knots, and it's not only birds, there's a lovely one called Hares in December - but most of the poems are about love death, memory and the mutability of human relationships. They are powerful and moving at that level, but there's also something else going on that emerges as you see the book as a whole. There's a lot of stuff written just now about the fallacy of humans seeing themselves as detached or separate from nature and how we need to recognise ourselves as one with it. This doesn't seem to be a problem for Matt Merritt. There seems very little distinction between the act of living and writing  - love is "written" on the sky, lives are drawn in, revised or erased across a landscape, as if humans are poems written by the earth. I like this. His writing is not just understanding but connecting.

Troy Town is an earlier book. Matt Merritt has since published a new collection called hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica,  and you can see some of his more recent work at his blog Polyolbion.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Artists of the Week - Nat Hall and Pat Morrissey

Before I wind up the Lúcháir site altogether, I want to share some of the artists who have made working on it so inspiring.The first is someone who needs no introduction to most of the people who visit here. Nat Hall writes the Nordic Blackbird blog and her sensitivity to the weather and landscape of her home in Shetland and her wonderful photographs are a constant delight.

The second is someone quite new to me.This time last year I took a lot of photos "walking the territory", and put some of them up here - the banner I'm using now is one of them, and I'm still quite pleased with them. But on Saturday I shared a table with  Pat Morrissey at our local Fair Trade and crafts coffee morning. He was selling beautiful cards made from photographs he took in our local gardens and on roadsides. Adds a whole new dimension, don't you think?

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Putting the garden to bed

The cuttings are tucked up in the greenhoouse

I planted the garlic. It's very early, because of last year's frost. Imeant to do it towards the end of November, and around the sixteenth the cold started and the ground froze solid until the end of January, and the green shoots are up already.

The patio is swept, the summer bedding is gone and the bulbs are all planted.

And the winter jasmine has begun to flower.

There's a little more to do before the real bad weather starts, but already my mind is moving indoors and I'm thinking about making over the web-sites, the study programme for next year, and new ventures in poetry.

One thing I'm thinking, though, and that is that I'm going to delete the Lúcháir web-site. There will still be a page for it on the burnedthumb site,and here, and the core of the project goes on. The lúcháir way of thinking, living and writing is as important as ever, but the project never quite gelled as I had hoped.

This is because I don't work or write quite the way I had always imagined I would. I love to meet people and explore what they are doing and learn from them, but essentially my creativity comes from solitude. It's not just finding peace and quiet, or escaping from distracting responsibilities - it's the way I process what I learn and turn it into poetry.

Kenneth White has a phrase which resonates with me just now. "Poet, use well, the winter". I plan to.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Monday, 24 October 2011

Artist of the Week: Susan Kruse

I've had my eye on this blog for a while, but it all went quiet over the summer. Now Susan is back with an inventive series of drawings - some of which involve the very creative defacing of books.
Welcome to my Brain: Daily drawing

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Little fawn

We were at the Little Fawn Waterfall (at Aberfoyle) on Sunday. After all the recent rain, it wasn't so much a 'lithe leap' as a headlong rush, but it was very impressive all the same!

The sun is out today, although it is very cold, so I am hoping to finish planting bulbs and put the garlic in before the frost.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Artist of the Week - Gail Kelly

Gail Kelly produces woodcuts inspired by the landscape of her native Northern Ireland. You can find her work at Algan Arts.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Just a Thought

Image from Amazon.

Sometimes I get cross with Kenneth White.

and then sometimes amid all the cynical self-aggrandising and contemptuous ramblings (I was reading Across the Territories while I was on Islay) there's something so profound and incisive and inspiring you have to let him off.

Like this:

"the real is richer than the imagination --- The real demands investigation and is an invitation to sensitive knowledge --- then a relationship to the real and its resistance requires changes in thought, in ways of being, in ways of saying; it requires a transformation of the self --- how much more interesting an open and poetic process (is) involving contemplation, study, movement, meditation and composition." page 86

Now as I go on, I can see reservations building up. Kenneth White and I would have some major disagreements about what's real. He doesn't seem to think that much about human society is particularly real and he wouldn't have much time for my understanding of God as 'that which is most definitively real' - 'myth-malarkey' is the word he uses (and let us agree that there is a lot of myth-malarkey in what passes for religion in popular culture).

Also I'm fairly sure that there is deeper engagement in reality and more transformation of the self going on if you stay put, rather than being a nomad, and that dialogue between two (or more) people of alert and open minds might be as fruitful as an unaligned solitude, but I'm all for this process of relating to the resistant real. There's more joy in discovering the quirks and flaws and deviations and serendipities of a world which is given, than in designing a matrix that obeys the narcissistic whims of the human fantasy

Monday, 10 October 2011

Quiet Glasgow Night - Draft

I'm looking over some of the scraps of poems I've got lying about. This isn't on my usual beat, but before I get back there - poems about irises and archaeology and (probably) a lot of wet leaves, what do you think? The oddness of all those incidents haunts me.

Quiet Glasgow Night

The drunk man rails at the statue.
Waste of space. Tosser. Fanny merchant.
Fanny merchant. Fanny merchant.

Dewar stares doggedly down the street.

Three boys film the skater who jumps
the railings, meets the board,
crashes at the foot of the steps.
He shakes his wrist. His knees are covered
with blood and bruises. He jumps again.

Two phones deliver, “I'm on the train.”
The blonde opposite marks up a chapter
on problems designing steam turbines.
The metaller across from me
takes out a guitar, fills the carriage
with Smoke on the Water.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Artist of the Week - Carrie Osborne

There's a lot of whimsical faery artwork on the internet, but not all of it has the eye for detail and the solid grounding in the natural world of Carrie Osborne's. her children are not only pretty, but lively and humorous, and her blog includes some lovely photos and some incisive and interesting writing too.

Some grateful acknowledgements

While I was away, this post appeared on Michelle Mcgrane's informative and fearsomely well-read blog Peony Moon.

And on Friday Jody Porter from the Morning Star added this post.

I am delighted and honoured to appear in such company. Thank you to Michelle and Jody for including me.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Major Hiccup

Many apologies. I have hi-jacked my husband's computer for a minute to let everyone know that my own internet connection is no more (best guess, that the networking software is, to put it technically, 'gubbed') and until I get hold of a long cable or a new computer, I'll be out of touch. Back ASAP

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

While we were on Islay we visited the Community garden at Bridgend, where the local community has taken over an abandoned walled kitchen garden and turned it into a valuable resource. Volunteers work on the plots and the produce is sold in the shop, where they leave an honesty box.

there are plenty of the usual vegetables

and a large and well-stocked herb bed

but there is also a productive fruit cage, a polytunnel with tomatoes and peppers and butternut squash

and the garden has been turned into a pleasant open space for families to visit and for children to play

I was really impressed with the range and quality of produce available. The climate must be quite benign, but they've really made the most of it. It just goes to show what a community can do when they get the chance!

You may notice that the blog has been subtly enhanced in a way that is quite beyond me, or the resources of the blogger template. This is the work of Naomi Rimmer (yes, she is related, she is my daughter). If anyone would like her to do some design and coding work on their blogs or websites I wouldbe very happy to pass on her contact details

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Islay without the whisky

It is hard to go to Islay without dealing with the distilleries in some form or other. There are so many of them and they dominate the landscape, the economy and, to a certain extent, the culture. We went to one of the events at the Laphroaig Jazz Festival, for instance, and we bought soap from Spirited Soaps in Bowmore which whisky in it. This is less odd than it would appear at first, as the owner Ailsa Hayes explained to us. Soap needs alchohol to make it transparent, and using the characteristic Islay malts gives her a link with the distilleries that benefits everyone.

However, neither of us has the smallest interest in whisky, and the last week was about the beautiful landscape


and wildlife we saw

This stag was on Jura, where we went for the day. Jura has a distillery but life there is dominated by the shooting estates, so it was a very different experience from Islay.

We saw eagles, hen harriers, redshanks, and curlews. We saw hares and rabbits, and migrating birds by the hundreds - geese and starlings arriving for the winters, lots of finches - goldfinches mostly but also twite and chaffinch, stonechat and whinchat passing through, and wheatears swallows and housemartins who were held up in the islands by adverse winds. This gave us a really strange mix of summer and winter birds a moment suspended in time.

Our biggest ambition was to see an otter. This is really hard, even on Islay which has many otters, and we were reminded of this when we attended a lecture at the Port Charlotte Natural History Centre on photographing Scottish Wildlife. The photographer said that it had taken hime twenty years to learn how to spot otters, and they never turned up in the same place twice.

We kept hoping, but the nearest we got to them was this

Friday, 16 September 2011


Just a quick post in the middle of all the running around I'm doing.

Thanks to Kevin and Sheila of Red Squirrel Press, I now have copies of this book, and if anyone would like to buy one, I'll be in a position to send them out when I get back from my next expedition.

On the afternoon of 30th September I'll be reading at the Community Centre in Dalry. The event is due to start at 2:00.

I haven't done an artist of the week this week or last, but check out Kirsty Mordaunt's web-site - the link is in the sidebar to the right. She has a web comic building there, plus illustrations for a couple of my favourite fairy stories. When I come to earth again I will have a couple of new blogs to share, some artists and photographers I've come across during the summer. The internet is a truly wondrous place!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Wherever We Live Now

This is the Friday night session of the Callander Poetry Weekend, where, thanks to the herculaean efforts of Sheila Wakefield and Kevin Cadwallender of Red Squirrell Press,
Wherever We Live Now emerged into the real world.

I always knew that poets were a kind and generous lot, but I was overwhelmed by the warmth of the reception it received. You know who you are - thank you to all of you who listened to me worry, enjoyed my happy moment, made me feel that it is indeed a big thing to have a book out - not to mention those who bought it and asked for signatures!

Also a very special thank you to Sally and Ian for giving us the space in their weekend! Sally was the first editor who ever published me, and the first to allow me to read at one of her events. I bet half of Scottish poets could say the same - we are all in her debt.

There were other books launched this weekend, too:

Anne Connolly's Love in a Mist also published by Red Squirrel

Ian Blakes' Remembering Falstaff and Others published by Sally and Ian King's firm Die-hard Poetry

Fred Beake's The Old Outlaw published by Shoestring press

and Deborah Tyler-Bennet's Revudeville
published by King's England Press, and her chapbook Mitton...Dyer...Sweet Billy Gibson which is to come from Nine Arches Press

Yes, I did buy them and Marion Macready's Vintage Sea (Calderwood Press) as well as pamphlets by kemal Houghton and Gordon mason. It was some weekend, and it's a good job I'm going to Islay shortly so I can catch up with all these poets!

Please email me if you would like to buy a copy, or they will shortly be available via the Red Squirrel website.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Callander Poetry

Helena Nelson, from Happenstance,,
wrote about the fabulous Callander Poetry Weekend, so I'm not about to add to that, except to say thank you to Sally and Ian for the poetry, the workshops and discussions, the friends, the food, the laidback atmosphere - not to mention the chance to read from the book!

(You'll hear all about that in the next post, but this one's for Sally!)

I'll just add a few pictures:

Kevin Cadwallender, who read from His latest book
Defragmenting Sappho, as well as his familiar more comic poems (including the famous Skincare for Daleks).

Sheena Blackhall reading - and singing ( there was a fair bit of that this year)

Anne Connolly reading from her new book Love in a Mist. Sally is listening. One of the very few things wrong with Callander is that we don't hear enough of Sally's own wonderful poetry!

Two things mean Callanderto me - Colin Will starting a session by sounding aTibetan singing bowl - it got into one of the Orpheus poems - and Ian Blake listening to someone read, with a cat on his lap.

The chickens were less than impressed with the poets invading their space!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

One Leaf, One Link

I'm posting a link to this post from 2008 (can't believe I've been blogging so long!)

One Leaf, One Link

because earlier this year Jackie Proctor from PlusPerth, a local mental health charity, was in touch with me, saying that there was a plan to reprint One Leaf One Link an anthology to which I contributed my poem Walking on Water. For reasons to do with the way funding was given, it may not be possible for Plus to actually sell copies, so if you come across one, please make a donation to the work of this wonderful organisation.

And while I'm at it, I'd like to commend the Dundee-based organisation Art Angel, for the excellent work they do. Art isn't therapy if it's treated as a hobby or an afternoon out. But if the work and the artists are allowed their true value, it can be a voice and a lifeline. PlusPerth and Art Angel deserve all the support we can give them, and I'm away now to see how I can go about it.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Walking the Territory - end of summer

Although the day was sunny and warm, once the cloud burned off, we're on borrowed time. The spring wheat isn't quite ready for harvest - I know this because there were no clouds of finches in there gathering while they may - and there are still flash mobs of young swallows over the grass, although the swifts left weeks ago. But I heard the first autumn song from the robin, and the first geese were overhead last weekend.

The rowans are blazing ripe where the blackbirds haven't scoffed and scattered them and I picked the first blackberries for crumble. Hawthorns and rose-hips will be a week or two and the elderberries maybe a weeks after that. I'm pickling the smallest of the shallot harvest and getting ready for the plums and apples. Everyone in the village seems to have trees but us, so I am very grateful for the surpluses, which I repay in plum jam and mincemeat at Christmas.

Seeds are ripening on the verges and in my garden, and I'm saving seeds of poppy, marigold, astrantia, cornflower and chervil, and many more to share with members of Towards Transition Stirling, who are holding their next cycle tour of sustainable gardens next weekend.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Artist of the Week - Fiona Robertson

You get two for the price of one this week. I am a sucker for rich colours and natural forms so Fiona Robertson's web-site is always a joy. It has recently been updated by her husband, who just happens to be artist Douglas Robertson. His own beautiful web-site is here.

I haven't been looking after this blog as well as I would have liked this week, as the Edinburgh Festival is on, and, while I haven't been at anything in the actual festival, in and around the edges of this extravagance, poets have turned Edinburgh into an extended and glorious poetry party, with so much stuff going on I find myself bemused and punch-drunk.

Last week I was taking part in No Sleep in Bristo in the endangered and amazing creative space The Forest - thirty-six hours of non-stop poetry, with about a hundred poets participating. It finished up with an event called A Knife Fight in a Telephone Box, which sounds as if it was both fascinating and very funny. Unfortunately, having been sabotaged by some ravioli which turned out to contain undeclared cheese, I had to take the resulting migraine home to bed.

This Tuesday I was at three events - the Courtyard Reading hosted by Christine de Luca who read Nae Aesy Mizzer which is one of my favourite poems from her recent book North End of Eden, then Get me Out of Here, organised by the Grey Hen press - fierce and funny poems by women of 'a certain level of experience'. They included among others my friends AC Clarke, Eleanor Livingstone, and poets new to me, but names to look out for - Angela Kirby and Julia Deakin.

I hadn't the stamina to go along to Immortality Now by Andy Jackson, which was a shame as he read the title poem at the Courtyard, and it was excellent. But I did make it to the 6 Poets reading in the Fruitmarket. The six poets were Simon Barraclough, Helen Mort, Isobel Dixon, Helen Ivory, Andrew Philip and Rob Mackenzie - a diverse collection of poets all very different from me in styles and themes and preoccupations, but all the more interesting for that. And, as at all the best parties, I met friends and caught up with all the news and made plans for the next time---

This will be at the Callander Poetry Weekend where, if everything goes to plan, I'll be able to see the first copies of Wherever We Live Now. And that really will be some party.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Artist of the Week Vic MacRae

This weeks artist is 'outside artist' and animator Vic MacRae. Her work is vibrant, colourful and thought-provoking.

Also I noticed that someone was looking up the spirituality articles on the burnedthumb site and the links were broken. I've fixed them now, if you would like to check again.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

August in the Garden

A picture post, because the garden is calling:
Thinking about saving seed for next year

The harvest is in sight

If you have two loaves, sell one and buy a lily---

Friday, 5 August 2011

Please Note

There has been a glitch in the arrangements for our book launch, and it is going to be rescheduled. Pleae watch this space - I'll let everyone know as soon as we have the new date.

Also I'm registering the blog with Technorati (VKSKVKQB45VZ) to make it easier to find.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Can't Keep it Quiet

I'm really busy just now:
choosing poems to read at No Sleep at Bristo, the Poetry Marathon organised by Kevin Cadwallender, which will take http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifplace in the Forest Café over the 11th and 12th August. I'll be reading at 11 o'clock on Friday morning.

deciding which of the many poetry events I'll be at in Edinburgh on 16th August. There are at least five happening (you'd think there was a festival on or something), but all I know is that I'll be starting at Courtyard Readings which is hosted by Anne Connolly.

updating the Burnedthumb web-site and getting ready to check the proofs of my book. It's really all happening now, and Wherever We Live Now will be launched at Blackwells Bookshop in Edinburgh on September 13th. It should be a brilliant night, as books by Anne Connolly and Marion Montgomery are being launched at the same time. Pictures later, as soon as we are organised!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Artists of the week - Peatbog Faeries

Probably no-one needs any introduction to the
Peatbog Faeries, but I picked them as this weeks artists because of the title track from their album Faerie Stories. It has a backing track of swifts flying round a house in Nice belonging to a friend - very timely just now with swifts everywhere. I was trying to find a clip of it to link to so you could hear it but I wasn't able to. There are some tracks on their web-site, though - enjoy

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Artist of the Week - Christine de Luca

The marigolds are subbing for the sunshine which is currently lacking in our garden. We've had about 70mm of rain this week, and it's only Thursday!

This weeks artist is the Edinburgh based but Shetland-born poet Christine de Luca. She writes in both English and Shetlandic, and you can find my review of her latest book North End of Eden, which was published by Northwords Now

You can also hear her reading at the School of Poets Courtyard Readings
on 16th August.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Artist of the Week - Margaret Bennett

This week's artist is the singer, story-teller and folklorist

Margaret Bennett.

As well as being a wonderful performer in her own right, Margaret is a gifted teacher. In 2009 she was teaching Gaelic singing to a class on Luing, and a blackbird joined in. She stopped the children so they could listen to it, but the blackbird stopped too, waiting for them to sing again. maybe blackbirds sing in Gaelic?

A quick reminder that the Spokes and Spades Renewable Garden tour starts at my garden tomorrow - if you want to join it, be at the Village hall, South Street Cambuskenneth at 10.30.

Friday, 8 July 2011

July garden pictures

The garden is full of sun today, so I thought I'd let you see how things are growing and flowering.
We started digging the early potatoes last week, but these need another week or two.

The sweet peas are just hitting their stride. I got the oldfashioned mix for their scent, but the colours are amazing too. At the end of the season I'll be saving seeds for next year.

These cranesbill geraniums seed themselves all over the garden, but the bees love them.

The gallica roses are over so fast but the scent is rich and wild and heady. I love it.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Poems to the Sea - a tribute to Cy Twombly

I usually find modern art challenging. I like it to be naturalistc and I have a preference for beautiful - which makes me fairly illiterate, I know. So Cy Twombly's exhibition at Tate Modern a couple of years ago was really challenging. But when I got it - I really fell for it. I was sad to hear of his death this morning, and post this poem in tribute to his "Poems to the Sea"

Poems to the Sea by Cy Twombly

Twenty-four slabs of white on white
blue constant horizon paint splashes
faint wisps of pencil

Mediterranean white white white
and when the sun comes up
becoming a lighter white

wave current ripcurl swell
weed flotsam bubbles spume
implicit goddess

painting the process of water
flows and falls of cloud
rain meeting ocean

painting the process of poem
words aimed shifted retracted
mind meeting paper

scribbles arrows overlays
the shape it takes on the page
the reveal in the process

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Artist of the week Richard Ashrowan film-maker

Richard Ashrowan is based in the Scottish borders and makes films of intense observation of the natural world. My favourite (so far) isLament,http://www.ashrowan.co a study of the landscape where he lives and which he describes as 'odd and empty'. It is brooding and atmospheric and reminds me of the muckle sangs and the battle-scarred history of that part of the world.

Posting may be scanty for a while. We have major family stuff going on, which may result in a change of emphasis in my work. I'll be keeping up with everyone on line, as far as I can, but possibly not be very active myself.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Artist of the Week June Waley plus upcoming cycling garden tour

There's exciting stuff happening in Stirling.

First is an exhibition of photographs by my friend June Waley - beautiful details of landscapes and natural forms, sometimes standing alone, sometimes put together to create composite pictures - stunningly beautiful.

Then on July 16th Towards Transition Stirling have organised the Spokes and Spades tour of interesting gardens - not beautifully planted, elegantly maintained show-gardens, but gardens for people who want to be a bit more eco-friendly, a bit more neighbourly or a bit more self-sufficient - or maybe just have a bit more fun with their outdoor spaces.

It's starting with mine - I'm 'early permaculture'. Maybe I'll see you here.