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Vocal in the Mitchell

05/11/2006

Thursday’s New Voice session went very well. For the first half of the evening, Helena Nelson gave a short workshop on how to raise your profile as a poet. In the second half, she interviewed me as a live case study. Poems were interspersed with the interview in roughly chronological order. Out of the 17 people booked to come, 11 turned up, but we anticipated some drop-off, and 11 was a good size for the group. It was a real mix of people at very different stages in their poetry writing and publishing histories.

One of the participants, Stephen Nelson, happens to a friend of a friend and had been in touch with me earlier in the week. He has just published, under his own imprint called Afterlight Press, The Faithful City, a beautifully produced pamphlet of what he describes as visual poems. They might be more usually described as concrete poems, but his use of colour and shade in the text takes the genre a step further. (I believe the pamphlet will be reviewed in the next issue of Sphinx.) It was a pleasure to meet and chat briefly with him.

Another notable participant was George Philp, one of the originators of Scotsoun, a company that has amassed a remarkable recorded archive of Scottish writing, song and music. Scotsoun’s focus is on Scots, but there are also recordings of Gaelic and English-language writing in the catalogue. George is now retired from the work, but he’s writing its story. Should be a fascinating read, given all the luminaries with whom the folk at Scotsoun have worked.

I was also encouraged to see someone who had heard me read at Reading the Leaves in Tchai-Ovna early in the year. Nothing better than people coming back for more!

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