Sunday, 19 August 2012

It must be in the stars...

The Bull Mask in Newton Stewart Museum

Now he sees what
the bull sees: two dim
curved worlds.
He swings his head
and now and then
a horn of daylight splinters
from the edge.

The wayward laws of serendipity have introduced me to artists Jo Hodges and Robbie Coleman, who have been appointed artists in residence for the Galloway Dark Skies Park and Galloway and South Ayrshire Biosphere.

The Forest near the Buchan Burn

...We breathe in oak air, laced
with draughts of peat and the sudden
swing of a jay.

My new collection, 'The Dark Farms', published by Roncadora Press, will be launched with a reading at Wigtown Book Festival on Wednesday 3 October, as part of the Festival's Dark Skies strand.   I had a great meeting with Jo and Robbie, who are planning a variety of curious and interactive ways to introduce the Dark Skies Park to festival-goers, and we're developing a collaboration which looks really exciting.  For more click here.

I spent 8 months of 2011 walking in the Forest, exploring ruins, talking to residents, poring over old maps and books and (while dodging some of last summer's rain) delving in Newton Stewart Museum.  I became completely absorbed by this remote, roadless place where hill farming is shrinking back off the high ground, and farms are abandoned, in some cases disappearing completely, except for a placename on a map, under the commercial forest plantings that have been put in during the second half of the 20th century.  The nights are very black, and very starry, with an extraordinary lack of light pollution.

Bricked up farm at Glenhead

...I touch raw breezeblock
mortared where the panes should be.
The same for every window, every door.
In every room, the dark's walled in.