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Catch-up Time

05/10/2008

Busy busy busy at the moment here. It’s good busy, though. I’ve proofed my proofs, sent ’em back and had author photos taken for the book (of which more in due course); I’m gearing up for Linlithgow Book Festival and this month’s various readings; and I’m working on a Scots language writing project in the secondary school in a neighbouring town. Somewhere in among all this, I prentend to find time to breathe.

Anent LBF, we’re delighted that we have our first sell-out event: there are no more tickets left for Christopher Brookmyre‘s reading on the Friday! There are still tickets left for everything else, but don’t delay. And don’t forget the open mike reading at 8:30pm on the Saturday night, which I’m hosting.

Speaking of readings, the first of my October run was the St Mungo’s Mirrorball HappenStance showcase on Thursday just gone. Turnout was decent despite the less than friendly weather. It was especially encouraging to see some folk who were at the event Helena Nelson and I did at the Mitchell Library for the Scottish Poetry Library a while back and to learn that that had been a significant point for at least one of them.

As for the readings themselves, it was an evening of great contrasts in style of writing and performance, but with a lot of good work. That’s the glory of these gatherings. There were eight of us reading–myself, Michael Munro, Patricia Ace, and James W Wood; Paula Jennings, Eleanor Livingstone, Margaret Christie and Rob A Mackenzie. I’m only going to pick out the highlights of the evening for me.

I was very, very impressed with James’s new long poem, “The Song of Scotland”. It’s been published in the latest Poetry Review and, to judge by the excerpts he read, such high-profile publication is well deserved; it’s a strong, imaginative, distinctive piece of writing. A rant, yes, but there’s a great pedigree of those in poetry. James’s HappenStance pamphlet is well worth getting hold of, and I must buy his latest, which is published by Linlithgow-based Jane McKie’s Knucker Press.

It was also particularly good to hear Paula Jennings again. Her pamphlet, From the Body of the Green Girl, was so hot off the press it had been pressed into her hand that evening and isn’t on the website yet. I like her inquisitive sense of craft, form and line; her quiet confidence and her imagination. Paula was a Shore poet for a while, and it’s a shame she was unable to continue as part of the group.

Helena Nelson read only two poems: one at the beginning and one at the end. The latter was a lament for Duncan Glen in ballad form and in Scots. Very brave of Nell, as she’s from Cheshire, but she pulled it off beautifully (and I don’t say that lightly). She’s writing some extremely good formal work these days. The evening was, also, in a way, a celebration of Nell’s energy, her skill as an editor and what she has achieved with the press. That’s as it should be. She never ceases to amaze me.

There was, of course, an added sense of celebration, given that Rob and I were both reading not only from our HappenStance chapbooks but from the manuscripts of our forthcoming Salt collections. In publishing our pamphlets, Nell undoubtedly gave both our writing careers significant boosts towards that goal, so our celebrations and successes are also very much hers.

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