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A Further Window on Last Wednesday

15/02/2007

As I mentioned in my post on LUPAS one matter touched on in the Q&A at last Wednesday’s reading was the poetry-science divide. The divide in reactions to Gerrie Fellow’s new work was fascinating in that respect. Norman Kreitman, a PAS stalwart, complimented her on tackling the spiritual impact of technology. “Very few poets have the guts to do that,” he declared. Gerrie denied any spiritual intent, but there is a strong emotional thread to the poems for Window for a Small Blue Baby, which might be what he meant.

By contrast, another audience member, who used to be a scientist, said he found Gerrie’s approach “cold”–though I must disagree strongly with that–and applauded me for the emotional content of my work. Given my uncertainty about how well I’d read, that was encouraging.

One thing I feel definitely went well in the reading was the mix of languages in my set. For the first time, I read some poems that include Gaelic phrases, as well as my usual mix of Scots and English. Joyce Caplan, who chairs the readings, commented that the use of Gaelic in “Sketchbook of a Trip to the Hebrides” (published in the issue of island magazine mentioned in this post) was, if I remember her choice of words correctly, “enticing”.

This practice arises out of a recent desire on my part for a sort of Caledonian linguistic holism in my work. It’s too obvious to write poems in Gaelic or English or Scots and Scots already infilrates my otherwise English-language work to varying degrees, so why not employ my slowly growing knowledge of Gaelic in similar ways? I realise it’s not “accessible” to do that, but I’m less interested in accessibility than the aesthetic possibilities it opens up for me. Not that I’ve gone far in exploring them yet.

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