Monday, 29 April 2013

I'm going to be Poet in Residence at Logan Botanic Garden!

Yes!  At last I'm allowed to shout about it!  I'm so honoured to be joining Gerry Loose, Mandy Haggith and Sue Butler as one of the four poets selected for the brilliant new project Walking With Poets, a partnership between the Scottish Poetry Library, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Cove Park..  Each of us will have a month long writing and walking residency at our assigned Scottish Botanic garden, as well as a fortnight’s residency later on at Cove Park.

This fantastic opportunity has come about through the first aim of the Scottish Poetry Library: 'bringing people and poems together', and most appropriately, etched into the flagstone at the entrance to the Library,  Patrick Geddes's words 'by leaves we live'.

We will each work from an iPad (and yes, this is also rather exciting for me) for the duration of our residency, with which to contribute regularly to an online blog Walking With Poets, with photographs, poems and observations from the garden. We'll run writing workshops and guided walks for various age groups during our stay in the garden, providing endless opportunity for sharing the wonders of these extraordinary places with the people who come along.

From the start I've been madly obsessed with Logan Botanic Garden.  After 12 years living in Dumfries and Galloway I know it fairly well, and have always loved visiting it.  Because it's so strange - an exotic garden in the warm Gulf Stream, perched on the long, thin, green peninsula of the Rhins, at the very edge of Scotland, lapped by the seas.
And inside it, those palm trees sheltered by tall, dusty walls, which are all that remain of the old castle of Balzieland, said to have burned down at the end of the fifteenth century.

At the thought of waking up there, early on an August morning, my fingers itch for a notebook.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Quantum Poetics - unorthodox poetry with some laughs

As part of Dumfries & Galloway Wild Science Family MAYHEM! Day, I've been asked to provide a means of finding the poetry in science.

I've enjoyed myself and invented Quantum Poetics (well I borrowed the title) - two fun-seeking and exploratory short workshops aimed at guiding scientists to the poetry that lurks in pendulums, and poets to the thrills to be had from theoretical physics. But no doctorates are required – just curiosity and a sense of adventure!

I'll be there to help participants find their way into making a short poem inspired by science, using appropriately ‘MAYHEM! Day’ unorthodox and experimental techniques. Expect both laughter and some deadly serious creativity.

The workshops are at: 11am – 12 noon and 1.30pm – 2.30pm. Free entry (age 14 to 104) but please book ( ) as places on the workshops will be limited.

Dumfries & Galloway Wild Science Family MAYHEM! Day takes place in theRutherford McCowan Building, The Crichton Campus, Bankend Road, Dumfries DG1 4ZL

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Going Dada for Much Wenlock

Much Wenlock is the sort of place where poets should indeed be leaning languidly against medieval oak and mullions.  However, instead they were bounding purposefully along the winding streets in search of a very fine weekend of poetry indeed.

Venues were pleasingly dotted up and down the old streets, and the sun shone warmly down, so it was a real pleasure to wander from The Pottery to The Priory to lovely Wenlock Books.  It was a treat to meet Anna Dreda in person.
My Saturday was spent mostly in The Pottery, a most attractive venue for readings with a glowing woodburner and racks of handmade pots above our heads. Grey Hen Press read to a packed audience: I especially enjoyed Angela France and Alison Brackenbury.
Efforts to get into the George and Dragon for Poems and Pints with Mark Niel were defeated by other people having had the same idea slightly earlier... but we found an excellent bowl of soup in a cafe across the square, and ran into more poets.
Then we went to readings by Offa's Press, and Nine Arches Press - I bought Nick Pearson's collection 'Made in Captivity', and Angela France's 'Lessons in Mallemaroking'.

Among the large heaps of ice still lurking on street corners were colourful boards which turned out to be Dada Poetry Orienteering.  I absolutely loved this!
Here's my Dada Poem:

Line up alphabetically, by height,
Animal Upright - Grey and Purple.
Always a Plum, if you
could lick the surface of Jupiter.


I read myself from my first collection 'Not Lost Since Last Time' with Oversteps Poets - a huge treat to read with R V Bailey, Charles Bennett and Alwyn Marriage.  We had a packed and lovely audience, thanks all, then dinner in the George and Dragon with Andy Forster from the Wordsworth Trust, then a fantastic reading from Carol Ann Duffy, Sean Borodale and Imtiaz Dharker.

Sunday I went off to find Emergency Poet (my friend Deborah Alma) - who was having a weekend of High Demand for Poetic Cures.  Nurse Verse (who was really Kate) was dressed in her Poemedic outfit because it's warmer, and reported soothing the anxious patients as they waited for their turn in the ambulance.  Well worth clicking on the pic to read their ecstatic feedback (though I'm not sure about the one who says they have an attack of the Rumis).
Later I read from my pamphlet 'The Dark Farms' and the slide show of the Galloway Forest worked a treat, thank you the technicians of the Edge.  I also enjoyed meeting and listening  to Paul Kingsnorth, with whom I shared the bill.
And a fabulous last night with all my family along to see Benjamin Zephaniah.  Just how often have you seen a poet begged for an encore?