Thursday, 27 October 2011

Writing about James Goodwin's 'claytown' for the Edinburgh Review

..I'm reminded of Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky's large-scale industrial landscapes: mines, nickel tailings, quarries, ship-breakings, container ports...'s tasks then, were and are as follows: finish the Goodwin review; a phone call with Polly Clark about speech, poetic voice and identity; apply for membership of PVG Scheme and get public liability insurance for my upcoming project (news of this to follow); finish off another four limpets. And with the wind having dropped a bit, collect another swatch of seggies (iris leaf) to make a thick, new rope...

a typical sort of day...

Friday, 14 October 2011

Nigel Lambert mug!

Just back from a reading and a workshop in London, and failed as usual to walk past the Contemporary Ceramics Centre on my way out of the British Museum. This may be my favourite place in London, though rivalled now by the Ish-Horowicz's fruit-hung bamboo sukkah, where we shared mushroom risotto on Wednesday, celebrating the first night of Sukkot. Strange to be out in shirt-sleeves on an October evening; lovely to be included in the festival & blessings. There's something similarly harvest-celebratory about Nigel Lambert's strong, swashy strokes of glaze. I'm drinking endless brews of tea out of this one, with a lot of manuscript appraisals/mentoring/reviewing on my plate before I leave for Lancaster Litfest next weekend.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc

An evening reversing slowly across my kitchen at the end of a rapidly-lengthening rope made of sanitary disposal bags from the Scourie Hotel. The thin waxy paper makes a nice cubist sort of rope, which I'm thinking of interleaving with the rich brown rope of iris leaves collected in Skye and Uist. So a memento of the 'Poet's Tour' much in the line of Caroline Dear's make a rope a day collection...I wish I'd got to see this in Inverness.

For rope-making best choose new music you want to hear over and over again, in this case the eagerly-awaited Nordic Fiddlers Bloc CD (comes with Norwegian stamp!) that was waiting for me when I got home. You might remember me going on about them after 'Fiddle Frenzy' this year. If it reminds me of anything I've ever heard before it's 'Appalachia Waltz' by Yo Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Mark O'Connor. The (NFB) sound is constantly self-contradictory: wobbling in the best way between poised and unhinged; eerie and airy; acetic and ascetic, dissonant, inordinate, rapturous, just as the new October light is here. Also often earthy, as in the case of 'Maria's 27th Birthday Plattgympa' with its oscillation between lewd and douce. (I wish there was on youtube a clip of Anders Hall demonstrating the plattgympa (dance); all the more reason to try and see them live...)

It's the nature of harvest (hairst) to be a rich and melancholy time – the lambs are being driven by quadbikes around the knolls and eventually into the trailers, five whiting were swinging, yesterday, from the neighbour's washing line, drying; leaves and shaws in the veg garden rusting and rotting even as my purple turnips continue to burgeon. I've hung some coriander sprigs up in the kitchen, in case the green seeds dry enough to use for spice. It's not winter yet, but autumn's a blink here, almost as it is in the Arctic, and there's two new snow tyres on the back seat of the car, waiting to be fitted.

Busy time: rope, the first online workshop for the Poetry School tomorrow night, mentoring deadlines, and trips to readings and workshops in London and Lancaster in the next couple weeks. I'm making fleeting edits to the 'Byssus' poems on the basis of the recent readings. More about all this later perhaps...