Sunday, 16 September 2012

Callander Poetry Festival 2012

Bridge over the river at Callander

This year's Callander Poetry Festival seemed like the best yet though possibly I feel that's the case every year. The 'special' this year – Saturday in the church hall - was a showing of Alastair Cook's Filmpoems, 

The Sunday morning discussion in the garden, led by Les Merton, Editor of Poetry Cornwall
also centred on poetry and other media. I'm familiar with poetry and images, I've experimented with combining them in different ways 
cat and archway in Piran Slovenia

but Alastair is the innovative master of what may well be an entirely new medium. 
Later on Saturday, there were also split screen readings, where people had written a poem about one of their favourite TV characters. ShielaTempleton  chose Jean Luc Picard, reviving memories of gazing at Star Trek's new generation's handsome captain.

There were too many fine poets to do them all justice here but I'd like to mention just a few, a very personal selection.

John Coutts'  hugely entertaining delivery, beginning with his box of surprises which immediately arouses people's curiosity. 
Ritchie McCaffrey, whose first collection Spinning Plates, has just been published by Happenstance. 

From The Professional

You will notice some day soon
all your cups carry my trademark -
a faint hairline crack. I specialise
in subtle, half-bearable damage.

A C Clark's reading from her latest book Fr Meslier's Confession,  based on the French priest (1664-1729) who had to hide his atheism in those oppressive times when the church had huge authority and power and to question their beliefs and dogma could have severe even fatal consequences. But Fr Meslier wrote about his true beliefs in a secret document, shown to no-one of course, and only discovered after his death.

From Fr Meslier on his book

I have walked decades hand in hand
with this, the only friend
to whom I speak my mind.
I will not long survive

the ending of our daily talk.

Chrys Salt’s  reading from her latest collection Grass a moving tribute to Angus MacPhee, the Weaver of Grass

Margaret Gillies Brown's poem she wrote about Freiburg in Breisgau, a city I owe more to perhaps then any other on earth. 


Les Merton, who always makes us laugh and this time excelled himself.

Sheena Blackhall

And Sheena Blackhall, Makar of north east Scotland, also makes us laugh because no matter how serious her subject matter, she superbly catches and presents to us that sweet note of the absurd, the profound underlying humour of life.

As soon as Sheena starts to speak, you listen enthralled, for each anecdote is a story, and reading her poems on the page cannot compare to listening to her. Sometimes she reads in English, sometimes in Doric but even if you don’t know Doric, you will understand the drift of it and can’t help but enjoy the lilt of the spoken language. Another treat from Sheena is when she sings, unaccompanied, with perfect pitch. 

Sheena read, among others, some of the poems she wrote of the Impossible Gifties, the tiny, gorgeous, intricate paper sculptures left anonymously in various places in Edinburgh connected with books (National Library, Poetry Library, Central Library, Storytelling Centre etc.)

Poeta est in silva she began by saying - when she learned Latin at school, that's where poets always seemed to be, where they spent their time - in the wood!

The poet is in the woods.
Currently, she is a bird

Whose flight never ends till it drops. 

It is the business of birds
To fly, they are winged creatures

The poet’s little flights of imagination
Rustle the leaves for a moment
Snap a twig or two

The bird does not stop her flight
Because it is Sunday
Or she has reached the edge of a leaf

The rest of the poem can be read here, as can the others, accompanied with images of the relevant sculptures.

Mike Penney, poet and musician, in Sally and Ian King's bookshop

Finally, someone who was not physically present at the readings, but whose book I bought from Sally and Ian’s bookshop – Rachel Boast’s  great debut collection Sidereal.
I met Rachel a couple of years ago at the Bakehouse,  where Chrys Salt organizes wondrous evenings, full of poetry, food and wine. After the reading, Rachel and I sat up late, finishing off the wine, then went outside into the damp dark night to look at the stars.
GuardianReview of Sidereal here

More images of the weekend can be seen on Dominique Carton's site



Elizabeth Rimmer said...

Sidereal is probably the best poetry book I've read this year - you'll ove it!

Forest Dream Weaver said...

Interesting post,seems like you had a fantastic weekend. I like the first photo,very atmospheric!

dritanje said...

Elizabeth - I am loving it - I don't always understand it!! need to read it several times - but I am enthralled. I meant to tell you how much I enjoyed your book too - superb writing.
Thanks Ruby, it was one amazing weekend xx

Gerald (Hyde DP) said...

A great report of the weekend - can't believe it is 7 years since I last attended a Callander weekend

Anonymous said...

Hi Morelle
It was great to be present and to read your account of a wonderful poetry event.

Eileen Carney Hulme

dritanje said...

Thanks Eileen - I really liked your comment with a straight face, something along the lines of - I mostly write about dead people...!
and Gerald - you were missed!

melinda decker said...
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