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Beefing up the Future


I’d been exercised by the second half of this all day, and then I see that not only has Rob Mackenzie blogged about it already, but Roddy Lumsden has replied in the comments section.

Briefly, Roddy is baffled by the sparse number of established Scottish poets in my generation: those born in the 1970s and 1980s. He’s not the only person to feel the dearth: Bill Herbert explores it briefly in the endorsement he did for The Ambulance Box (which you can read in full at the link) and Donny O’Rourke alluded to it when he spoke to Rob and me at Mirrorball. Heck, I‘ve felt it over the past decade, when I think about it. And during my time at Edinburgh uni, when Roddy was on the cusp of publishing his first collection, there were precious few other Scots involved in student poetry. I come across none of them now in the poetry world.

Perhaps what we need(ed) is more good poets teaching, not in the academic creative writing courses, but in open access, informal or evening class-style courses. More of what Roddy does in London (please move back here, Mr Lumsden!) and what others have been doing through Mirrorball’s mentoring scheme, the like of which doesn’t exist elsewhere in the central belt, to my knowledge. More to bust us out of our wee lonesome bubbles.

There’s no Poetry School up here. Looks like the furthest north they’ve got is Newcastle. Try searching their courses on “Scotland” (which is an option) and you get:

No courses match your search criteria. Try searching again with fewer stipulations.

Thanks. Does the existence of the option mean they’re thinking of breaking into Scotland? I suppose the georgaphy is less of an issue now with internet courses becoming available, but I guess not everybody will teach or take those. Maybe we just need to get on and do something about it up here ourselves. What and how I’m not sure. Suggestions, anyone?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Andrew Philip permalink
    15/03/2009 22:40

    I’m reproducing here Bill Herbert’s comment on Rob’s blog:

    “Here’s where I first started scratching my head about it on the Poetry International website:

    “Mind you, they had enough of a job distinguishing ‘Scottish’ from ‘British’ — the Poetry Society asked me to pick poets for the former, only to have John Burnside chosen by another editor for the latter category. I wasn’t asked to continue — presumably it was felt a Team UK approach was sufficient.”

  2. Stephanie Green permalink
    01/04/2009 13:17

    I agree, Andrew. It would be great to have a Scottish Poetry School – run along the lines of the London-based Poetry School i.e. professional poets giving workshops.
    Last year I went to two ‘outreach’ Poetry School one-day workshops – one in Newcastle tutored by Colette Bryce, the other in Durham, tutored by Kathleen Jamie. That was the nearest on offer I could find. Particularly ironic, since lives in Fife.

  3. Stephanie Green permalink
    01/04/2009 13:19

    Sorry. That should read ‘Kathleen Jamie lives in Fife’.

  4. 10/11/2009 11:24

    Hi Andrew, I’ve just stumbled upon the thread of this discussion here and on Rob’s site, which has been very thought provoking. The Poetry School tries to be a demand-led organisation, but also, perhaps obviously, a developmental one. I would certainly be interested in discussing some of the points you and others have raised so please feel free to get in touch for a chat.

  5. Andrew Philip permalink
    11/11/2009 22:11

    Hi Ollie and thanks for getting in touch. It would be great to bring you into the continuing discussions on this topic. Did you comment at Rob’s blog too?

    • 16/11/2009 15:46

      Hi Andrew, I have only left comments here to date but did read the postings on Rob’s blog.

      • Andrew Philip permalink
        16/11/2009 22:05

        I’ve mentioned to Rob that you’ve been in touch. I’ll mail you soon.

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