Happy to have work back in Southlight magazine having contributed to two previous issues. There will be a live reading event at The Yellow Door Gallery in Dumfries on June 11th at 6.00pm with actual people! Sadly I won’t be able to make it, but I hope anyone in the Dumfries area will call in and listen to the work of the other contributors present; and please do pick up a copy, either on the day or through Southlight’s own website. The issue is full of great writing by some well-known Scottish writers including the prolific Margaret Elphinstone and writer and poet Hugh McMillan along with many others, not to mention a forward by editor Vivien Jones. My own contribution is an essay with accompanying images which continues an exploration of Lewis stemming from my residency with Island Darkroom in February and first appeared in abridged form in Elsewhere: A Journal of Place.
I’m looking forward to taking part in this symposium on the 04th May at the University of Aberdeen:
Deep Wheel Aberdonia is an event celebrating writing from and about Scottish islands with special guest Harry Josephine Giles, author of recently published verse novel Deep Wheel Orcadia, in which Orkney and its language are taken on a strange science-fiction journey, carving out a radical new space for Scottish writing.
The event will be chaired by Centre co-director Professor David Wheatley and also feature Orcadian poet Ingrid Leonard, who will read from her recently-published pamphlet Rammo in Stenness (Abersee Press). I will be sharing work stemming from my residency at Island Darkroom which explores how Lewis has helped to shape the work of poets Donald MacAulay, Iain Crichton Smith and Derick Thomson.
More details can be found here.
We are obliged to know we are global citizens. Disasters remind us we are world citizens, whether we like it or not. – Maya Angelou
The horrific events unfolding in the Ukraine show us how true Angelou’s statement above, is. Nowhere on this planet is isolated, no action that does not ripple through the world on some level or other, highlighting our interdependencies. I have no words that can convey the shock and sadness of what we are witnessing. All I can do is to join the many thousands of others calling for our own government to stop its hill-fort nation thinking and open its gates to the refugees of the Ukraine.
Help by signing this petition:
I’m very fortunate to be hosted by The Island Dark Room as part of their Winter Residencies Programme, giving me focussed time and space for research and writing centred on Lewis. Today, I followed the single track road from Achmore northeast toward Stornoway, chasing the ghost of Lewis poet Iain Crichton Smith. The wind was up, the sort of wind that snatches a car door from your hands and makes the rafters moan, and the clouds were heavy with the threat of rain. I passed cold grey lochans alive with waves, and peatbanks signalled by plastic bags and upturned wheelbarrows strewn along their length, lonely shielings perched high on the moor.
I found the ghost of Crichton Smith at Bayble where he had lived with his widow mother, dreaming to leave but once left, never able to recapture it:
It’s the island that goes away, not we who leave it. Like an unbearable thought it sinks beyond assiduous reasoning light and wringing hands, or, as a flower roots deep into the ground, it works its darkness into the gay winds that blow about us in a later spirit. Iain Crichton Smith, ‘The Departing Island’ from Three Regional Voices, 1968, in Mathew McGuire (Ed.), Iain Crichton Smith, New Collected Poems, (1992, repr. Manchester, Carcanet Press, 2011), V 13-18, p.65
Each place, each time, waymark the stories of our lives. Like a pebble plucked from a beach, or a feather caught on a sleeve, we carry them with us, wishing to hold on to something that has passed.
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