Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Patrick Hamilton

What a great writer Patrick Hamilton was. I’ve recently been reading up on writers describing the alcoholic condition, a kind of bibulography. It all started with Jack Kerouac’s tale of alcoholic breakdown in ‘Big Sur’, then travelled via Jack London’s ‘John Barleycorn’ ,Bukowski’s ‘Post Office’ and Charles Jackson's terrifying 'The Lost Weekend' to Patrick Hamilton, who unlike Kerouac and Bukowski, wasn’t writing thinly disguised autobiography but fiction enhanced by life experience. Read ‘Hangover Square’ it is a brilliant novel. Am currently in the middle of ‘Twenty Thousand streets under the Sky’, his great masterpiece and it is fantastic. Hamilton, for those who don’t know, wrote the plays that were made into the film ‘Gaslight’ and Hitchcock’s ‘The Rope’.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Up Coming Attraction

Friday 11 April 8pm
Two leading poets published by small-but-beautiful Shoestring Press read from their work.
In Deep is Merseysider Matt Simpson’s sixth collection. The first half of the book is made up of miscellaneous pieces written during the last four years. The second half is devoted to what he calls "an uncompleted sequence" - a substantial set of poems concerned with the ins-and-outs and ups-and-downs of marriage. "An artist at work meticulous in every line, savouring every syllable." (Acumen magazine)
Hugh McMillan’s latest book is Strange Bamboo. He teaches history in Dumfries and lives in Penpont – McMillan is a sharp, streetwise satirist with a romantic streak. Read his hilarious Dark Mutterings from Drumsleet blog for a flavour –
http://drumsleet.blogspot.com/ you can also download a podcast of his poems.
It seems the English can't get enough of Drumsleet's second best Makar. Two readings in three months represent a virtual frenzy of activity for him, but he will I'm sure be equal to it. Sadly his travelling support - Theosyphillis Neill- will be unable to attend due to a prior amputation.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Notice by Highland Regional Council

Potential suicides are alerted that
Cape Wrath is not a suitable spot:
the ferry across the Kyle is seasonal,
with a vehicle from the pier at Keoldale
(if the firing range is not in use) operating
only twice a day. Also the bus is driven
by a man so crazed with loneliness
he will follow you throughout your stay
and offer to share his lunch, a kindness,
which, even in the circumstances,
would be graceless to turn down.
It is also a fact that the dank union
of rock and grass and implacable sky
robs human beings of the ability
to take decisive action of any kind.
Better for you to return,
find a B and B in Durness,
bore yourself to death.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

New Project

My next project is based on a psychiatric episode I had which caused me in the course of a small period of time to bolt round the whole of Scotland in a roughly clockwise direction until I came back where I started. As I went I sent postcards home, so I had the idea of doing a small collection of poems as illustrated postcards which fit into a wallet in the back of a big specially designed fold out map of Scotland depicting the journey. This will be beautiful looking as it is being done in collaboration with Hugh Bryden, an artist (and poet) of great talent, imagination and humour. Some examples of his striking work can be seen above or at http://www.hughbryden.com/
This is one of the planned poems:
Romantic Break in the Rainy Season

In grey light the trees and hills
melt on a horizon wobbly as water.
At times like these we too
lack definition: our eyes film,
we are slow as salamanders.
We leave wet lip marks,
and footprints sunk on the stairs.
Our children gurgle like little reeds in rapids.
Hours leak by, days:
we have as bad a spell as Noah,
only fewer animals.
We are 90% water 10% metaphor,
our meeting is dissolved.