Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Potery is hard wurk

Someone asked me yesterday what it was like to be a writer. Shite, I replied without pause for breath. Still, there is more to it than that. I put too much store in the fact I am a ‘poet’, but it’s an important part of the way I think about myself. Writers, of my type at least, have a personality steeped in unreasonable optimism and a hugely inflated belief in the quality of their work but they must also find writing irresistible. Only that way can the unremitting disappointment and humiliation be tolerated.. Gerry Cambridge, a man I count as an excellent poet and friend, said as much recently. A born writer he said, sort of, overcomes little difficulties like lack of publication/exposure/recognition by the unceasing desire to write. This, like a lot of things Gerry says, seems to me fundamentally true.

There are always little signs of encouragement that keep you going, too. Last week a poem accepted for ‘The Rialto’, this week a request for a poem for Luath’s upcoming Anthology ‘100 Favourite Scottish football poems’. The poem in question there is ‘Anglophobia’ which Gavin Hastings read out to the Scottish rugby team on the day of their World Cup semi-final against England in 1991. They lost, of course, Hastings himself missing a sitter of a penalty right in front of the posts which would have drawn the game. Possibly he was troubled about the poem's internal tensions.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

An End to Exile

Back to Drumsleet after a long summer in the Palazzo Foscarini in Dorsoduro. How one quickly tires of Veuve Clicquot! Manys the time I dreamed instead of eating mutton pie at one of Drumsleet's premier Bar Bistros where the salad is deep fried and your meal comes to the table fifteen seconds after you order it (or ten seconds before, if Deaf Betty's on).

I always take my culinary advice from my confidante Theosiphylis Neil, body builder and thistlemilk entrepreneur, who was Chief Chef to the Dowager Empress Alice, mother of Tsar Nicolas 11. It is a fact known to few that this venerable lady died of food poisoning at her Dacha in Sandside in 1982 at thre age of 160. Unhappily for Theosiphylis, the Dowager Empress had already squandered most of the treasure she'd smuggled out of Russia in her corset on scratch cards and four horse yankees, leaving him only a first day cover from the opening of the Post Office Tower, and a rare collection of Siberian dried plants. It will surprise no-one that the scoundrel sold the former and attempted to smoke all of the latter.

For those of you with a morbid interest in the life and times of Theosiphylis Neil I would add that his latest career- that of a performance poet- got off to a rip roaring start at the Open Mike session held in the Station Hotel on the last Friday in July. He is due to make a repeat performance on Friday August 31st at the same venue. I may also read an ode or two. Anyone wishing diversion from Drumsleet's other premier Friday night occupations should come along.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Love Story

Love Story

Below a stunted tree
on the Whitesands,
a small black mongrel
watches a sunburned man

drinking cider. No Border
Collie or Sealyham
could be more focused
on the job at hand-

unflinching eyes follow the can
from lap to lip
and back again.
Between rapid sips

the man talks softly to the dog,
lifting his hand
occasionally in salutation.
He has more booze unopened

on the grass beside him,
it is hard to tell
if the dog knows this,
or knows it too well:

the sunburned man
and the small black mongrel
are a package too complex
to unravel,

it’s enough to know
this Friday afternoon,
in this un-seasonal town,
they are very much in love.