12 Nov 2009

The Glór Sessions

Got back to Dublin the following Monday, showered off the mud in the hostel, rested, went to meet Dennis at his hostel.
We walked through Dublin talking about being in love with Dublin, understanding why James Joyce wanted his heart buried here, how the buildings and bridges and street speak in some way that we recognise in our blood. Dennis has an Irish surname, an Irish parent. My ancestors are Irish further back - can our DNA remember it here, we wonder? Stop by on our way to the International Bar to hear some buskers with pipes, bodhrun, fiddle: and nearly cry or dance or something of that overwhelming nature with the passion of it.



We have been invited to the International Bar, by poet Stephen James Smith, who runs the Glor Sessions (glór means: voice, sound or noise) a weekly spoken-word, poetry and music night. Stephen welcomes us, buys us Guinness.
'The Girls' from the Picnic turn up (almost unrecognisable in mud-free attire) with hiusbands and friends. They are here to give us support and to enjoy the show - I can see how tired they are after the weekends exploits. These are women who know how to enjoy their drink! (And they made sure that I did too.)

It was an excellent evening of words and tunes, and a spirited audience in the beautifully built International Bar with its wooden floors and polished, old oak bar-tops and beams throughout, and frame-mirrored walls .

What I especially love about Irish audiences, is that they use their ears to actually listen, not just to hear things with. In England, or at least in the south as it is familiar to me: if there's a run of funny poets at the open mike, and a serious one comes along, or a nature poet, or a gentle voice - the energy often drops; sometimes turns chilly. The literary poet is judged differently for their capabilities than the sometimes less literary, entertaining one. The symbiotic relationship of energy between audience and performer, fails somewhat.

In Ireland, they pay attention to what's being said with... easy to say 'greater respect', but I wonder if it's more than good manners, sensitivity. It's as if they just have more appetite for the spoken word. (Even at the Electric Picnic when I took to the stage slightly ill and distinctly lacking pizazz - a man in the audience spoke to me softly afterwards, said he's especially liked the one that...and so on. He had really listened.) One person in the audience, a man called Gerry, befriended Dennis and I with much enthusiasm. If I had had any more Guinness to drink, not only would I have not been able to speak my poems but would probably have burst into a heartfelt rendition of Irish nationalist folk songs. (Not that I know the words more than a few lines of 'the Wind That Blows the Barley'.)

Stephen James Smith compered with panache, and shared poems too. Enda Reilly's music was especially excellent, and I bought his CD 'Oxygen 21', (the title track of which has now become a fond favourite with friends and family.)

I've never had an encore for my poetry until that night. Dennis, who took to the stage after me, received one also. So many compliments, every one of them truly meant. We have both been invited back anytime.
I am interested in finding any ways I can possibly muster the funding to do so. A poetry tour of Ireland is definitely somewhere in my future plans.

Dennis and I walked back to our hostels, blowing kisses to the Liffey, high as kites and in love with Dublin all over again.
We said goodbye for now; promising to be partners in rhyme again some vague time in the near future - our separate ferries sailing back to Blighty on the cold grey sea in the morning.




Ha'Penny Bridge - Image courtesy of Tourism Ireland Imagery

Electric Picnic loses the plot.

photo taken by Tony Walsh: Me & Dennis Just Dennis (with skeleton facepaint) at the Electric Picnic 2008.


The Electric Picnic takes place in the grounds of the Stradbally Estate, Portlaoise, Ireland, every year.

My experience there in 2008 was so amazing, I wondered if this year would be shadowed by my memories of it. The shadows were much more real and disappointing than that could have been: but whether by the logistic incompetence or the skinflint capitalism of the organisers, I do not know which.

What is brilliant about Ireland is the warmth and hospitality of the people. Unlike the British: they talk to you, to each other, on trains, at bus-stops, in bars, and anywhere else where strangers might become better acquainted.
Last year, I camped next to fellow Brit poets Dennis Just Dennis and Tony Walsh, and we were befriended by three young Irish women: Sam, Rachel and Michelle, who also came to see and hear our poetry and as a result became interested and inspired by poetry in general. (I love it when that happens!). 'The Girls' as we fondly called them, met up with Dennis and myself this year (Tony couldn't make it - we all really missed him!) and joined by their friend Sarah, continued where we left off last year with their generous and inclusive friendship. How amazing it is to find such a welcome in another country.

It was also so good to see gain, Marty Mulligan, who runs many spoken word projects but largely, the Leviathan poetry tent in the Electric Picnic's Mindfield. Marty seems to have endless energy for keeping the tent/stage/random poets/audience/sometimes strange audience members in the right place at the right time. I don't know how he manages it; and he performs his poems from memory (I still carry my little black book everywhere like a security blanket) and sings in a band at the end of the day, AND manages to look relatively mud-free and suave in a black suit and shades. Laid back, mellow, yet on the ball, Marty Mulligan is honourable, and cool. He has just inspired that line to rhyme too.


Dennis and I did a show together at the EP last year: The Race for the Write-house: with Bollock O'Barmy and Hilarious Clingon. Alluding to USA politics of that time, our sham-slam politically based poetry set ended with us encouraging our audience to 'vote poetry'.

This year, Den and I had nothing new to share, but both having written new poems that went in slightly different literary directions, we performed separate sets.
I ended up doing two: one on Saturday one on Sunday.
I felt ill during my first one. Nothing thwarts a performance more than needing a chair on stage because you have a headache and dizziness, and the fect that you might throw up any minute. Luckily, a quiet and appreciative audience responded well and I recovered from what was probably exhaustion and a bit of hypothermia.
The rain was intermittent but the cold wind whipped. There were no fires around which I could get warm.
Paella, hot chocolate, and a medical heat-pack I had bought 'for emergencies' made me feel much better. Later that evening, I sat round the fire in the 'body and soul' area, recovered, told poems impromptu in 'The Big Chair', drank a lot, enjoyed music.
Next day, my short set worked better as my inner rhythms did their thing in harmony with the words as they came out of my mouth. Applause. Phew.

I loved hearing the Poetry Chicks again. Their combination of feisty politics and erudite grace let loose by tongues that hark back to the mysteries rhyming powers of the Greek Chorus, Pamela Brown and Abby Oliveira are something else. Impressed by eloquent Belfast poets Chelley McClear and friends' polished show. Kate Tempest (who will one day be a name known worldwide, and who leaves me open-mouthed in awe, and who is also a sweet, wild, good-hearted woman) and Salena Godden jamming together with music and madness of the Book Club Boutique. Dennis Just Dennis commanding a storm of applause again, getting offered bookings to other shows. Ophelia rocking rhythms in the Irish tongue. Marty Mulligan's rhyming and timing and Irish heart. Raven being entirely brilliant, tender, powerful.
I love the poetry tent.
I missed it when I went anywhere else - but everywhere else up in the Body & Soul area was also a great place to be.

Back to my griping. I have seen better organisation at 1980's anarchist free-festivals where there was no organisation other than a sense of common humanity; greater 'duty of care' at impromptu roadside raves and more common sense at a Village Idiots Gathering (Chanctonbury 1987, in fact.)
The severe lack of toilets at this festival led to obscenely blocked loos and several sewage leaks -gallons of it..Toilet queues were the worst of any festival I have been to since a particularly vile WOMAD some years back; shit piled high, no handwashing facilities, gel run out after half an hour not refilled til next day. Good thing it was cooler weather, or we'd have all got dysentery. Caged in our camping field by locked metal fences and a security guard (with no spanner) at the narrow exit to the field (thank god someone vandalised the fence at a couple of points) no fire buckets or exits, deep wide mud-flats, crap all over the woods...it was a nightmare, comparable to a hedonists' refugee camp. Security people and site crew overworked, worse camping facilities than ours, and many of them furious with their tosspot boss ( the one with the headphones.) The recycling facilities, held together by devoted and hard-working individuals, was ultimately unworkable chaos.

The organisers let down the entire festival; the outstanding arts, top bands and impromtu small stages, endless innovative sounds, the spirit of the Electric Picnic and the beautiful Irish people, and festivalgoers of all ages: ripped-off by a bunch of posturing gobshites.

Croissant Neuf Summer Party


Croissant Neuf Summer Party
is these days called a 'boutique' festival. Apparently. It's what all the best festivals used to be like 'back in the day'...before we were inflicted with festival licensing, security fences and overpriced marketing tat; and when political vision was more commonly and appreciatively held in the activist hands of the festival goer.

Croissant Neuf truck - photo taken from their website.


True to its grass roots, Croissant Neuf boasts "The world's largest portable Solar Powered P.A. system." and which blasts out the volume from the main stage, lights the little fairy lights around stalls, yurts marquuees, lights essential stalls and venues - and all powered by the sun (and a little from windmills, too).

I enjoyed running a poetry workshop; later loved sharing the stage to do a set of poems in Cafe Seren but especially enjoyed compering the open mike and hearing new open-mikers, some poets reading their work in public for the first time, including an eleven year old girl and a man in his forties. I love it when new poets stand up and share their voices, ply their written craft into new shape for their voices.

Whilst CNSP would do well to encourage more performance poets at futire events - theirs is an audience that seem to greatly appreciate and enjoy spoken word - I did enjoy discovering two spokenword/poetry acts that combine their words with music: Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer, who held an audience-packed Cafe Seren in frenzied, dancing hysteria; and the unique, enchanting storytelling rhymes and wordsmithery of Quercus Burlesque. I will be looking out for gigs by these folk in the future. I want more!

I loved the whole festival. Sean running ongoing green-woodworking and wood carving workshops, eleven year old Natasha playing with new friends and joining in the many craft workshops - even using an oxy-acetaline torch for the first time, to make her tin windmill, and having her first go on a trapeze in the big-top. The sun shone, the loos were clean, we kept good company with new friends and old, and the view was stunning

I hope they will have us back next year.

Croissant Neuf Summer Party 2009 from Croissant Neuf on Vimeo.





The unexpected - at WOMAD

Next festival of the season: WOMAD, at Charlton Park in Malmesbury. Not there for literary pursuits but to assist husband Sean with selling his beautiful woodwork, I was surprised to hear the Bristolian tones of Nathan Filer, as I walked past the Real Ale Tent.

For a festival that so excellently embraces the music and dance of the whole world, even its most obscure regions and distant islands, I think it really lacks something by not embracing further, the poetry voices of many nations. So with exotic Bristol suddenly represented in my midst, stayed and enjoyed every nuance in Nathan's witty, erudite rhyme and ramblings.

It turned out that the tent's stage was being managed by friend and poet Peter Hunter, who is also Apples and Snakes co-ordinator for the South UK (though he was not wearing his A & S 'hat' at the time).
Encouraged to do a few minutes on the open mike the next day, I did just that.

The Real Ale Tent and Pete & friends put on a vibrant, arts community, poetry and music for-the-people by-the-people all weekend. We bought real ale in support of such a venture. Cheers!

A brief divergence from poetry related things:

WOMAD always surprises me with some kind of music or another. This year, amongst other delights, I discovered Spanish based punk-folk band Che Sudaka. I haven't seen a relatively little-known band at WOMAD pull a crowd like that before. On one of the smaller stages, people spread way back into the throng of the festival to get a glimpse of what, who, this phenomena was. Many stood in the pouring rain when the skies let loose for a while. I haven't seen so many people pogoing, proper full-on up-and-down jumping, since...I don't know when. Decades ago. I bought the CD, and am playing it frequently. Not pogoing, though.

Poetry Stars

The Queen's Theatre, Barnstaple

Another highlight of my poetry year was back in June. Mel Scaffold, the South West co-ordinator for Apples and Snakes, booked me and fellow poets Adam Horowitz and Edson Burton as support to Brian Patten, for the North Devon Fringe at the Queen's Theatre, Barnstaple.

For a small Devon town, Barnstaple is well renowned for its thriving spoken-word scene, and this theatre is at the heart of it.


Brian Patten is a phenomenal performer. There is something inexplicable about seeing a true master at work - and not just because this poet has probably spent more years doing it than almost anyone else in the land - but it is as if his command of the audiences' total attention results from some brilliant, diamond-like quality in his own mind. We breathed in Brian's poems like prana, and they sustained us like that force - joy, sorrow, empathy, humour, and other aspects of our human condition, celebrated with tenderness and wit.

I always love socialising with poets after the gig; and together with some of the Apples and Snakes crew, enjoyed some of Barnstaples hostelry. At one point, as Brian regaled with tales of poets past he told us of some of the poetry conversations he once had with Robert Graves; who in turn, had spent time listening to the wisdoms of Thomas Hardy; who, likewise, had enjoyed conversations with Wordsworth.

I could feel the poetry in the air between us, crackling all the way back through time to the first starlight.

10 Nov 2009

Gossip.

Haven't written anything for ages because I have been too too busy.

Prone to loquacity in my daily life, I only want to write anything here, that is part of my literary and creative life, and that might be of use or enjoyment to someone. I've had a delicious, poetry-suffused summer and autumn, so there are many words just waiting for their moment to be typed up.

I really do not want to discuss my jam-making projects, random serendipities, sketch book, gardening, weird friends, scandals, family matters, or whatever else on here.

As much as my private life has its exquisitely fabulous and deeply interesting moments, I'm quite a private person, conversely, for someone who sometimes likes a bit of showing-off on stage.

So, I will soon be both praising or cursing various literary events and venues where I have poesied this year; and will be saying all kinds of juicy things about other poets, and generally being opinionated, right here on this space.

Come hither...

19 Jul 2009

CRB checks, and what is really precious...

I disagree with Michael Morpurgo’s viewpoint about enhanced CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) checks for writers/poets/artists who work in schools, being 'insulting'. I think that being famous has nothing to do with anything on this matter (remember Gary Glitter?)

I do not doubt that Michael Morpurgo’s response is that of a good man, shocked by his close encounter with a painful reality. But people who want to hurt children are cunning and devious, and children’s needs are paramount and sacrosanct.

I occasionally visit schools as a poet/writer: sometimes performing, reading, collaborating or teaching, and usually with a class of around 30 and with at least 2 adults. I am not in the slightest bit insulted by CRB checks. The £64 is a bit pricey for any impoverished artist, but it is a legitimate, tax-deductable business expense, so never mind.

Even with strongly held anti-ID card, specific anti-establishment views, I do not oppose being ‘checked out’ for this work. The process isn’t about me, me, me, and the offence it may be to the wonderfulness of my work. It is about the children.

Schools, which are an environment primarily for children, function best when there is a relaxed as well as secure atmosphere. As a parent, I would challenge a school’s ability to care for my children if it did not provide either of these qualities, or both in good balance. This means that staff should not have to work in an environment where they are expected to worry about, or act with reckless habitual nonchalance towards people from outside the school coming into it.

Recently, when I arrived in the foyer of a school where I was to spend the day writing and recording sea-shore poems, the teacher who greeted me was suddenly diverted by a safety/discipline issue with other children. Consequently, a small girl was instructed to lead me up two narrow flights of stairs to the classroom, before I encountered another adult.

With another group, working on Dartmoor, I enjoyed being alone with 5 children for a few minutes, to write about our observations: green beetles, blue-black feathers, far skylines and the sound of skylarks and stone-chats.

On another occasion - a woodland walk - I responded with a mother’s instinct rather than a poet’s voice and quickly lifted a distressed girl from the large, gravelled puddle into which she had just stumbled, face-first.

I have been sent to choose the stationery I required for making poetry books, from a cupboard in another part of the school, and passed a child reading unattended in the corridor.

None of the staff in any of these schools would have allowed these ordinary events to happen if I was not so thoroughly cleared by the Home Office every 3 years. Without CRB checks, any visitor would have to have a constant chaperone, or the school would be violating their duty of care and potentially be placing children at risk.

If I was the parent of any of the above described children, I would be relieved to know that the visiting writer had had a thorough CRB check. Especially if that child had already been assaulted and was re-learning boundaries; or if that parent, assaulted as a child, was learning to let go and heal their own past.
These frailties are too common, too important to overlook in favour of the naïvety or vain preciousness of artists – no matter how reputedly brilliant, saintly or famous.

12 Jul 2009

Hearing Voices - Dartington, 11th July 2009

Yesterday, Mim Darlington and I performed at a ‘poetry walk’ in the beautiful grounds of Dartington Hall, Nr. Totnes. It was an event hosted by Ways With Words Literary Festival, and despite a constant drizzle of rain, we enjoyed the company of a fifteen audience members. Our walk takes in views and vistas founded by gardener Dorothy Elmhirst, and maintained exquisitely since.

Mim & I have been leading poetry walks regularly at Ways With Words under the moniker 'The Honey Tongues'. Mim read some poems from her book ‘Windfall’ (publ. Oversteps Books) and I enjoyed reading mostly new ones of my own.
Mim Darlington reading from 'Windfall'

In the afternoon, I attended the Ted Hughes Memorial Lecture, given by Sir Andrew Motion. Sat on the high gallery of the stone built Great Hall, surrounded by the oak beams of its vaulted ceiling and amidst a crowd of Hughes devotees, I tried not to fall asleep. Not for any fault of Andrew Motion, but there were a lot of people in that room, it was a muggy day, and heat rises…

The Great Hall, Dartington. photo from Dartington Hall website


Andrew Motion’s lecture kept my soft brain sharp. He discussed the rivalry between Hughes and the poet Phillip Larkin, citing quotes from personal letters from each to close relatives, and press articles, written throughout the decades of their fame.

It seems that each perceived the other as a manifestation of their own shadow, worthy opponents in each other’s artistic quest: Larkin’s uptightness, Hughes’ wildness.’ Hughes embraced modernism, Larkin scorned it.

Hugh’s creative process involved him keeping the channel between conscious and unconscious, open, finding connection with wildness. Motion quotes of Larkin’s poems: ‘their rage or contempt is always checked by the ... energy of their language and the satisfactions of their articulate formal control’.

Motion used the phrase ‘the librarian and the shaman’.This inner-world and outer-world conflict, projected or not, is what significantly helped to shape each poet’s unique voice.


I enjoyed the lecture immensely. I am deeply interested in writers’ creative processes. In part as I live out the myth of my own, and in part because I teach creative writing classes with adults and work with children in schools.

It is something that I enjoyed discussing with other writers on the Isle of Arran residential, last month; and enjoy discussing often with Mim Darlington and other poetry peers. Each conversation is as valuable as any lecture by one former Laureate about another; though I’ve yet to experience a ‘worthy opponent’ of the Larkin-Hughes style.

I don't think it's necessary. Cooperation and appreciation breed a stronger, more positive culture in which to work rather than one undermined by blind projection and self-limiting rivalry. Identifying the nature of one's own inner shadows is an opportunity to grow both into them and out of them.

After leaving the Great Hall, I had two hours until a short performance of two of my poems, with the group Moor Poets.

Moor Poets logo, Artwork by Petra Tilly

I had bought a book of poetry with me to read: Planet Young, (Flapjack Press) by Liverpool born poet Gerry Potter; but there were all these lovely new poetry books to be bought at ways With Words, so I browsed, bought one. I will not say here by whom it is written, but someone of academic proportions and whose work, as I have come across it, has been very enjoyable.

Sat in the Roundhouse Café with tea and cake, I read my new book, its posh pages smelling of delicious poetry secrets. I enjoyed a couple of contemporary sonnets, then Gerry’s book began to jangle from my bag. A silent jangle, yet with a strong sense of scouse accent.

Jangle, I have learned from the introduction to Planet Young, is a Liverpudlian term for a particular kind of gossip. I carried on reading my new book, enjoying the thoughtful adaptations of traditional form, appreciating the subject matter and poetic insights within the carefully, consciously edited verses. But by now, Gerry’s book was hollering from the depths of my bag as if it didn’t give a shit about sonnets, and The Sons of May Butler demanded my heart to give it a second read that day.

The ongoing inner conflicts of the poet are an interesting phenomena en route to each finding one's voice, but it is another thing when the conflict in a poets psyche occurs between two others.

The new book went back in the bag. Out came Planet Young. Half an hour of reading later, I found my pen and a petrol receipt from the depths of the bag, and was inspired to write. It's about a voice finding its feet...


I was interrupted delightfully by the arrival of Jackie Juno, poet, singer and comedienne and good friend. We are both in Moor Poets, and exchanged stories of our recent adventures (she’s been to Ireland while I was in Arran) before going to the Moor Poets performance (I will write about Moor Poets quiet a lot in other blogs) in the Duke’s Room.



Each of the twelve of us present, read two poems from our recent, stunningly good (if I do say so myself) compilation CD ‘Uncharted’.


'Uncharted' CD, artwork by Sean Hellman

Apart from Mim, Jackie and myself, there are more than a dozen others on the CD – a delicious assortment of voices that illuminate vibrant and unexpected worlds. Many of us read a more recent poem, too. I am always surprised by and grateful for the brilliance of my peers; I especially enjoyed John Daniels and Rebecca Gethin’s new poems, and wonderful to hear and to meet with all the others again. To buy the CD, details/enquiries via the Moor Poets website. £5 well spent.

After the performance, our good-sized audience asked intelligent questions; and then a perve made inappropriate comments about some of the poets and I was gripped again by inner conflict: whether to speak harshly or just to cringe and shudder. The cringe and shudder won instantaneously; and a few moments uncomfortable silence was well managed by compere Jennie Osborne. After the performance I managed not to make eye contact. Disturbing men are not that common at Moor Poets readings, thankfully.

Two of the audience had also attended The Honey Tongues poetry walk, and requested a copy of a poem I had read that morning. Its new and I couldn't think of a title so have called it 'Zen Poem'. It began life with a exercise based on the I Ching, facilitated by John. G. Hall.

Hunt opportunities under shadows.
Stalk the impossible -
teach it to fly.
Learn soft landings in broken places.
Take up the martial art of the pen

and circle the circle of thought
that defines: you.
Close in on every

moment upon moment.

Capture it -

savour every

spark.


I went out that evening with my family to hear Siberian Nenet singer Tatiana Lar performing with Nigel Shaw and Carolyn Hillyer, in a large marquee in the middle of a rainstorm on Dartmoor. It was an awesome end to a surreal day.

Planet Young has just started whispering from my bag.

Shhh; I’m writing a blog.

7 Jul 2009

Isle of Arran adventure, poetry workshops

Isle Of Arran Poetry Adventure, June 2009

I have recently returned from a poetry writing residential week on the beautiful Isle of Arran, Scotland. Needing to clear my head of chasing paid work as a poet, writer and educator; and the rigidity of academic studies, and craving space for my own 'voice', I just had to get away.

The week was organised by Manchester poet and poetry magazine editor (Citizen 32, Cadre) John G. Hall. Although I had not previously met John, I have been reading his poetry via Myspace for a few years, and his poetry and online workshops via Facebook, this last year.
I enjoy his unique style, and am in awe of how prolific his work is; so the opportunity to meet him and to learn, and learn from other poets around the infamous and vibrant Manchester scene, was very appealing.

My friend Mim Darlington, also from my Devon locality, attended too. She is also a poet, but is currently researching otters for her forthcoming book, and doctorate, in nature writing.

photo: Matt in poets window, St. Columbas. By Daniel Brocklehurst










photo: Poets in St Columba's Chapel by Daniel Brocklehurst




...and so we arrived on Saturday after many tiring hours travel to arrive at the comfortable, spacious, tasteful living accommodation in the converted St. Columba’s Chapel in Whiting Bay. This sanctuary was to be our home and workshop space for the week. Both Mim and I felt an immediate need to explore nearby places of interest so we went to the pub. We also met up with the rest of our clan, some of whom were staying in another house in nearby Lamlash village.




Sunday was a grounding and group-bonding day; a long walk in the mizzle from the tiny harbour and exquisite beaches of Blackwaterfoot, beside a calm quicksilver sea. Along the coast path past past basalt cliffs, rock pools, oystercatchers, curlews, fulmars, eider-ducks, plovers, and watched by an inquisitive seal; and on through fields of flowering reeds, foxgloves, varieties of stonecrop, lichen, and orchids amongst countless other flora, and a glimpse of wild hares; and on to the King's Caves, so called because Robert the Bruce once watched a highly influential spider make its web in that same place.



Photo by Vanessa Fay: Gerry Potter, Mim Darlington and Steph Pike on the beach near Blackwaterfoot, Arran















Photo by Vanessa Fay: Gerry Potter in King's Cave, Isle of Arran.







Then, high up a cliff path and through enchanting woodland, back the waiting minibus; and then on to the Machrie Moor Stone Circles.

We got there a bit late for the moment of Solstice but midsummer magic did not elude us. As we approached the tallest of the stones, we noticed a curlew sat atop it, shrieking at us.

Photo: curlew on standing stone, midsummer 2009, Isle of Arran
She must have had a nest nearby, so we stepped carefully. She eventually flew away with effective distracting-tactics before we continued to explore the stones and their mysteries, some of us enchanted by our encounter with this usually shy species.

The week of workshops and activities unwound tensions and nourished the senses. Spontaneous activities included abundant feasting, drinking, and all kinds of merriment, including two of our number swimming the mile-or-more across to Holy Isle, and back, surviving sunburn and jelly-fish stings. We all thrived on a week of what turned out to be scorching summer. We endured Scottish midges, and possibly one or two hangovers. And collectively, wrote some stunning poetry.
The Unsung crew (Unsung is a Manchester based poetry magazine) organised and compered a gig in a pub in the nearby village of Lamlash. An unforgettable night, (especially for the locals, I would imagine).
Photo: Poets performance & night out. Lamlash

It was great to have an opportunity to meet John, at last, extending our on-line exchanges to an inexhaustible rapport – sharing insights and extracts of life-stories, philosophies and book-lists, plotting future performances and poetry proliferation. A renga-party is still to be done...

Photo: (below) John facilitating haiku workshop

There is much to be written about the Isle of Arran, about John G. Hall, and the other poets – especially those whose workshops I really got my teeth into. I’m still energised by everyone’s work, by the residential living experience, and the teeming flora and fauna of that island. It was an unforgettable week, and another sharp string to my poet’s bow.
Instead, I am letting the experience catalyse, cogitate, settle. I am sending some Arran-born poems to both the Unsung and to John’s upcoming Arran Poetry compilation. I hope that these few pictures each speak their thousand words, for now.Except these:


Midsummer: curlew,
sentinel on ancient stones,
shrieks like a fish-wife.




Arran on myspace: www.myspace.com/c32isleofarranworkshops
Unsung: unsung.manchester@gmail.com
Citizen32: http://citizen32live.moonfruit.com/

Photo by Michelle Green: Arran's haiku students