The legendary Callander Poetry Festival 2009 is over. I'm back home again, under greyish skies, images and feelings still circulating. So many inspiring and moving words – you can check out all the people who took part at the Poetry Scotland website.
We kicked off a day before the scheduled events, a few of us early arrivals. Left both in charge and unsupervised as Sally and Ian had to go out, it all started off well, with Maureen and I managing to make a salad, and buy wine, then a trail of people later set off for the local off license to buy more. I remember Mike and Kemal's guitar playing, and ending up in the pub up the road, but where I was to stay that night was not so easily remembered, so I needed several people to accompany me to the door, and to ring the bell, where the ever patient and hugely hospitable V sat me down and made me some tea before I headed for bed.
Before I started drinking wine, I did remember though, to turn off the cooker, so that the pot of vegetables which Sally had prepared, would not be burnt, once we sat down to talk and play music. To be absolutely sure that this could not happen, I switched the cooker off at the mains. Switching it on again the next morning, the cooker blew, and all the electrics in the house went out. I don't think I will ever live this down, though Sally and Ian, cheerful as ever, laughed it off. Somehow electricity was restored, apart from the cooker. I do not know how this was done, as my subsequent offers of help were met with a 'no, no, stay away!'
It is always a mystery how Sally manages to feed everyone and this year was particularly miraculous, working sans cooker. Yet once again, plates brimmed with food, with the peach jelly and baklava being particularly memorable for me. Wine overflowed. Yet by Friday night I was enjoying blackcurrant juice and wondering if I would ever drink wine again. (I did, the following day.)
Every year, apart from the superb mix of poets, there is always some particularly fascinating and unusual event. One year we had a resident Zen Buddhist monk, on another occasion, poetry was put to music which was made into a CD, (Snappy Day). This year's special resident was the Itinerant Poetry Librarian who has spent the last three years in various different parts of the world, taking her amazing collection of poetry with her. Her concept, activities, the collection, and her delightful self, are all heart-warming. This is only the second time, she told us, that she has been invited to a specific poetry event. The first invitation was to the International Poetry Festival at Rotterdam! When she talks on her website about liminality and 'the periphery of the periphery' I felt an immediate kinship with this idea, as it was what I was trying to express in the title of the previous post – Loose Threads on a Bead Attached to a Frayed Loop on the Outermost Edge of the Fringe.
On the last evening, after the official events were over, there was more music and singing, and I was able to join in with the inimitable Onya Wick. But just before that, I made an amazing find in the bookshop. For some time I'd wanted to read the novels of Robin Lloyd-Jones [his website is under construction] but when I asked him about them he said they were out of print. But while I was browsing the bookshop I found a copy of one of them! What can be better than coming home with a bagful of books you look forward to reading? My rucksack broke under the strain, so I foraged in Callander's shops before I left, and bought a new one.
The bookshop cat sat on the ....computer.