Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Poetry in the Days of Pestilence

Poetry in the time of pestilence. This is my last day at school before I retreat into a life of monkish contemplation. I have a few projects to do with the Holywood Trust (I'm writing a small history) and my school writing group anthology but I have also decided to try and video a poem a day and post it on the blog, for my own and others entertainment maybe. I think I'll gibber for a minute insanely then read a poem I like a lot then a new poem of mine? Those whom I have bored rigid recently will know of my 50 scots poems project on the theme of 'What if?' I may read some of them but in the meantime here's my Scottish Enlightenment Night Out poem. Keep safe folks, see you soon.

Whit if Thaur Wis a Scottish Enlightenment Nicht Oot

It a stairtit in the Rat an Monkey
whan Tam Reid telt Davy Hume
tae hae sim common sense
an he went daft
cos auld Davy theenks
since a knowledge is empirical,
its possible, no likely mind ye,
no to have ony.
Adam said if thaur wis an example
o someyin hivin nae common sense
Tam wis it- look at yon fucking stupit
hat he wis wearin
in this blowsy weather,
like an auld pair odf drawers
crossit wi a fucking tea cosy.
Dugald pipes up tryin
tae breeng saucht
but they a shout him doon.
Naebody fuckin remembers
a fuckin word ye scrieve
quoth Jim Hutton,
yer anely weel kent cos o us,
am seek o ye hingin aboot wi us onyweys
this is a Select Club,
next hing we'll hae wummen in it
and they stapit fir a meenit tae laugh at that
thocht, but then stairt again
an then they a get chucked oot o the pub
an stairt rollin heester gowdie doon the road
kickin fuck oot o each ither
till the French Revolution.





Sunday, June 30, 2019

Poetry at the Vic Beer Garden

Unlike many other poets who cross the road when they see me coming, the makar Stuart Paterson

has been a long and warm companion on many a seasonal and unseasonal day and is always keen for a chat usually over a drink. The other day, we ventured to a little known oasis in Drumsleet, the beautiful, well appointed and lush beer garden of the Victoria Arms. There we exchanged news about our recent poetry successes. Stuart is just back from a triumphant tour of South Africa, where he made many important contacts with isXhosa poets, some details of which can be found here:


He is of course one of the best writers of Scots poetry there is and was also excited to reveal great news of a new book, and many new opportunities lying ahead in the year to come. I was happy also to talk, among other things,  about my upcoming tour of the Blash o God, a multi media collaboration with a French based artist focused on the Buchanites which is due to appear in three cities and the Wigtown Book Festival.     https://www.photokennel.com/the-poetry-connection

 All in all we shared the multiplicity of rich poetry projects and achievements that you might expect from two poets at the very top of their game.

What an afternoon! I think we had eight quid between us.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Walking Quietly

I'm afraid this blog, rich source of wisdom though it is, fell foul of the easy lures of Facebook. I am less enamoured of pussbook now so am inclined to meander back here in my dotage, back to tales of Theosyphilis Neill- yes still bringing in the contraband thistlemilk by barge down the Nith every Sunday morning- Macduff and the rest.

I have retired from being a pedagogue though have been drawn back by episodic penury. I am still writing to some effect, but this effect is not so far visible in my wallet.  Two books have come and gone, https://www.waterstones.com/book/not-actually-being-in-dumfries/hugh-mcmillan/9781910745106 and https://www.waterstones.com/book/mcmillans-galloway/hugh-mcmillan/9781910745182  Others are on the stocks, more talk of them soon.

Currently I am writing some poems about Original Nations in America. There has always been a rumour, backed up it must be said by DNA evidence, that a great grandparent was of this stock: a very exciting prospect. I have always walked quietly in Capenoch Wood, for instance, another sure sign. Researching Bufallo Bill's Wild West Show and its visits to Scotland, I came upon the tale of Crazy Dancer, one of the Sioux Ghost Dancers who was sprung from incarceration to tour with Bufallo Bill and re-enact the destruction of his own people on  daily basis. He spent some time in Barlinnie having been arrested in a pub. here's a poem about it: The picture is from Buffalo Bills visit to Dumfries.

Ghost  Dancing
in the Gallowgate 1892

After one whisky too many
Crazy Dancer
thumped a minder
over the head with a doorstop

but before that had reached
an understanding
beyond the need for words
with Donald from Sligachan

whose leg was shot off
in Egypt with the Seaforths.
They both lived in
the hem of their histories

ragged at the edges
telling stories for beer
over and over
in the insistent poetry of tongues

as though the fevered act
of repetition might
reel back time
and the landscapes
black with ghosts.