Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Too Many Poets
Time was there seemed to be 3 poets in Drumsleet, The Makar Tom Pow, the beautiful Liz Niven and myself, as well as one short-story writer called Pete Fortune. This seemed an excellent and balanced arrangement, almost dictated by natural law; a senior, respected figure, a wumman, and two drunkards who'd spend a lot of time in the pub complaining about Tom being better known, and Liz getting more work. Occasionally we would be joined by Vinnie McWhinnie if he was out of prison.
Now there are poets everywhere. The taxi driver's a poet, the postie's a poet. There's even a talented poet living 3 doors down from me in the tiny village of Brigadoon. Many of these poets- though not all, I stress- are women of a certain age who have suddenly arrived, fully formed, with their own chapbooks. They are square jawed and determined. They win competitions. They have not served an angst ridden apprenticeship in the back of the Lyver. They shun alcohol. They are a formidable fighting force. I blame The Great Makar's highly successful creative writing courses at the Crichton Campus for the ongoing mass production of these poets.
I have a deep suspicion about anyone who does not at least occasionally drink. But a POET who does not drink? For God's sake, this is a violation of the natural order!
I am told that one of this species recently and publically repudiated the tradition of "local poets with their drink problems". It is a sad day for us, though I would describe myself, at some points in the 1980s as, in the words of Max Houliston, less of a poet with a drink problem and more of a drunk with a poetry problem.
Unhappily the furore has driven Pete Fortune from his muse. McWhinnie is trying sculpture in his Open Prison. The Great Makar is in Transylvania, or Venice or Shanghai. Only I walk Drumsleet's forgotten ramparts......