Rewind / Fast Forward

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In 2014 poetry continued to flourish in Glasgow, in Scotland and the U.K. as a whole. Here’s my highlights: I highly recommend Jen Hadfield’s new collection Byssus, from Picador, which casts an idiosyncratic eye and a finely tuned ear over Shetland, her adopted home. Gerry Loose’s fault line is also an exciting exploration of place, more specifically Gare Loch, home to Faslane nuclear submarine base. Loose’s poetry captures and splices together the nature and the nuclear that live side by side in this area and these short poems are like found objects of juxtaposed language and registers, which form a series of ‘moments’ or ‘views’. Loose’s collection was published by Vagabond Voices – a small Glasgow publisher – which branched out into poetry in 2014 also publishing Be the First to Like This, an anthology of new Scottish poetry edited by Colin Waters, which I’m proud to be included in. Other Scottish poets whose new collections are well worth reading include: Alexander Hutchison’s Bones and Breath (winner of this year’s Saltire Prize for poetry) and Gerrie Fellow’s new collection from Shearsman: The Body in Space.
In terms of live performance I was hugely impressed by J O Morgan’s reading from his narrative poem At Maldon at STAnza poetry festival this year, the book is published by C B Editions and is also as captivating on the page. Another highlight was watching Kate Tempest read from her new collection, Hold Your Own, in Edinburgh; she read her re-telling of the Tiresias story as a dramatic monologue and gave an emotional, mesmerising performance. In fact there were too many great readings in 2014 to list but I enjoyed listening to J L Williams read both live and on the radio, as she always gives a sonically sensuous performance. And Niall Campbell whose quiet readings I find draw me into the rooms of his poems.
In the Glasgow poetry scene 2014 saw the management of Tell it Slant poetry bookshop taken over by Kathrine Sowerby. This wee poetry bookshop continues to flourish with a wide range of new and second hand poetry books, pamphlets and magazines as well as live events. It is hosted and well served by the deliciously friendly Project Cafe right in the centre of Glasgow. Kathrine also curates a fine poetry zine: four fold which continued to produce new and exciting editions in 2014; it can now be bought in Tell it Slant as well as The Scottish Poetry Library and The Poetry Library in London.
St. Mungo’s Mirrorball, a great network of poets and poetry set up almost ten years ago by Jim Carruth, moved into a new era in 2014 as Jim handed over a share of the running of it to a committee. Jim Carruth who became Poet Laureate of Glasgow this year, had run the Mirrorball pretty much singlehandedly up until this year including setting up the innovative Clydebuilt poetry mentorship scheme. It was an altruistic decision to share his ‘brainchild’ with a committee but the reason was to enable the Mirrorball to secure more funding and grow further in its aims of fostering a poetry community open to all and sharing poetry with a wider audience. The Mirrorball still holds an impressive line-up of poetry readings from leading U.K. poets as as well as local talent and now has a web presence in the form of a blog.
I’m looking forward to 2015 and StAnza – an annual poetry festival held in St. Andrews – is on from 4-9th March this year, with headlining poets such as Carolyn Forché, Sinéad Morrissey, Simon Armitage, Kei Miller and Glynn Maxwell it promises to be good.
The Glasgow poetry Book group continues on its steady way into 2015, our fifth year! We meet every two months and usually read one collection or sometimes two pamphlets, for each meeting. We also bring along other books we’ve enjoyed to lend out, swap, give way or just discuss; everyone is welcome, just turn up or visit the blog for more details. Hope to see you on the poetry scene in 2014.

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