Sunday 30 December 2007
with frost -
on slippery pathways -
hand in hand
we feel safer
A senryu on a different aspect of frost is on my Alter Ego blog.
Frost for One Deep Breath
I bought some pot pourri from a local second hand shop and transferred it into pretty cloth bags. Some of the bags I made - this one is admittedly a bit of a cheat as it was the gift bag from a candle, but it is the most photogenic! The ribbon is re-used though I don't know where it came from originally.
Saturday 29 December 2007
I wrote a poem about Anya here. I'm currently reading my review copy of Poetry Speaks Expanded and was struck by this description of rabbits in Denise Levertov's poem Come into Animal Presence:
...............................The lonely white
rabbit on the roof is a star
twitching its ears at the rain.
...the rabbit inspects his strange surroundings
in white star-silence
Animal for Weekend Wordsmith
Friday 28 December 2007
When for example, an oil tanker runs aground causing massive environmental destruction we blame the disaster on the fact that the tanker had a single skin hull rather than a double skin, we blame the pilot or the adverse weather conditions. We rarely ask ourselves why millions of gallons of oil are transported round the globe in old vessels.....We do not ask ourselves what kind of consumption patterns, which we take for granted, have resulted in thousands of seabirds, fish and seals dying to satisfy our greed.
It promises to be an insightful read, which takes into account the interconnectedness of environmental sustainability and social justice, but also demands some serious rethinking of basic assumptions about how our society works.
Thursday 27 December 2007
Creatures of the Intertidal Zone by Susan Richardson
Gyrfalcon Poems by Colin Simms
The Good Neighbour by John Burnside
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
The Wild Blue Yonder - Werner Herzog
Planting the Dunk Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Seeing Dragons in the Clouds, Edinburgh City Art Centre
Weaving Words - Anna S King, National Museum of Scotland
More of my Best of the Year over at my Alter Ego Blog.
Best of the Year for Booking through Thursday, with added extras!
Wednesday 26 December 2007
to reach perfection -
form fit for purpose and place
until the poison
the looming shadow
for Totally Optional Prompts and all the penguins, vultures and other well adapted birds doomed to extinction by humankind's arrogance
Monday 24 December 2007
1. We will have a vegetarian Christmas dinner with nut roast, potatoes, carrots and Brussel sprouts followed by a vegetarian Christmas pudding with custard
2. I handmade all my Christmas cards this year.
3. I bought my sister and her husband ten metres of hedgerow from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
4. Most of the other gifts I have given are handmade, second hand or fair-trade.
5. Gifts that needed to be wrapped, I wrapped in handmade giftbags or in reused paper
6. From our flat we can see fairy lights decorating a crane in a building site!
7. There are reindeer in Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens during December up until Christmas Eve.
I'm not going to tag anyone for this, but feel free to join in if you want! Have a wonderful and peaceful Christmas!
Sunday 23 December 2007
Life has come and gone. Once the dinosaurs ruled the planet, now humans like to think we do. However, humans are polluting the earth, destroying rainforests and discupting weather systems. We are putting great stresses on the ecosystems of the world, pushing numerous species to extinction and damaging our own life support systems.
Things pass, everything changes, the earth as a planet will survive until either the sun dies or the planet is destroyed by huge meteorites. However, if we care for human society and for the species we currently share the earth with, we would stop and think a little more about how we treat this wonderful earth that is our home.
subtle swirls in blue and green
draped with wispy veils of white
set against a backdrop of black
The Earth for Writers' Island
Saturday 22 December 2007
Thebracelet was £2.40 in a second hand shop and the ring was literally found in the street! Altogether an ideal touch of glamour for a festive evening out.
Friday 21 December 2007
Thursday 20 December 2007
There are poems here based on the experience of the men, including Scott and Shackleton, who explored the Antarctic and others based on stories of the Scandanavian heroines Gudrid and Freydis. There are several poems about penguins,
continue to read the review here.
The NHI review site, run by Gerald England, is closing to new reviews this Christmas, but will still be online as an archive. So, thanks to Gerald, I've enjoyed writing reviews for this site over the past few years, I've been able to read a great variety of books that I wouldn't have found otherwise and reviewing is a great way to get closer to poetry and think about it more than you might otherwise do.
Wednesday 19 December 2007
I made these gift bags from scrap material. The gold fabric was left over from a top that I bought second hand that wasn't in perfect condition but the fabric was so beautiful I bought it anyway. I shortened the top by cutting off the damaged areas and found myself with enough cloth to make two of these gift bags. I decorated this one with beads from an old skirt and a ribbon from a box of chocolates! The other bag is made from material left over from a dress I had made in Malawi. The ribbon came from an old gift. I left this one without beads. These bags are an ideal alternative to wrapping paper. The recipient will hopefully reuse the bag, either a gift bag for someone else, or for personal storage.
Monday 17 December 2007
Janice (Pursuance of Truth)
Jo (A Broad's Thoughts from Home)
Polona (Crows and Daisies)
I would also like to award it right back to Nà as well!
Thanks to those I've listed and to everyone who visits here and comments or just lurks!
Sunday 16 December 2007
Saturday 15 December 2007
full of rain
in the sunlight
Clouds for Weekend Wordsmith
Thursday 13 December 2007
Wednesday 12 December 2007
feeders on carrion and rotting things.
Somewhere in Nepal,
they leave their dead for you,
on ice-cold mountainsides,
and watch you take the flesh,
An article in the current issue of the RSPB magazine Birds, prompted me to repost this poem. Three of southern Asia's vultures have declined by 99% since the early 1990s. Vultures play a vital role in ecosystems, clearing up carcases and preventing the spread of diseases that could be picked up from these carcases. This decline is due in large part to a drug, diclofenac, which is used to treat domestic cattle. Vultures are poisoned by this drug when they feed on the carcases of domestic animals. Work is going on to ban this drug and to breed vultures in captivity to release them back into the wild. If caught soon enough, poisoned vultures can be treated and can recover. For more information and how you can help please visit:
Vulture Rescue and the RSPB Vulture Campaign pages.
(Poem previously published in Envoi)
Tuesday 11 December 2007
I'm sure it will surprise no-one that I couldn't find an example of a poem with long lines! That will be something to work on perhaps.
Line Length for Read Write Poem
the rare dove, the rare eagle
both released back into the wild
Scientists and tourists alike gasp in delight
to watch the newly wild eagle plunge
through the sky in pursuit of prey
Delight is stunned into silence
when the eagle's first victim is seen -
a newly wild, rare dove
Birds and Bonds for Totally Optional Prompts
Monday 10 December 2007
When we got back to Edinburgh, I was delighted to find that I've won a mounted print of Mark Eccleston's stunning photo Frosted Teasel. If you don't know Mark's work, why not go and visit his blog and website - his photos are wonderful! And thanks for the prize, Mark!
Wednesday 5 December 2007
The appeal will be lead by John Swinney, MSP. Any letters of complaint or even support can be sent to him, using the contact details found on that link.
Of course some people see only the economic benefits that the proposal could bring but at the end of the day if we destroy the environment, we ultimately destroy ourselves and the economy. Progress isn't just about money. Or golf for that matter.
Tuesday 4 December 2007
dark splash of a crow in the floodplain of silence
from the poem Dusk. A lot of the book feels quite bleak, set in winter weather in stark landscapes and there are dark themes running through, such as death and abandonment. However the collection is not depressing or grim, its too beautifully written for that. I also have to say that this is one of the best poetic translations I've read, I don't speak Polish so I can't say how close to the original the translations are, but as poetry they flow wonderfully and multiple meanings can be read throughout - wonderful enough in poetry at any time but very difficult to achieve in translation.
I haven't been able to find a bilingual website that offers Kielar's poems side by side in Polish and English (For readers who are interested in reading some of her poetry in Polish, there is a sample and a short biography here).
Monday 3 December 2007
More and more people are seeing that progress needs to respect the past and the natural world and more and more in Scotland, there is hope that nature can win against the destructive advance of progress. More and more people are seeing that true sustainability means more than economics and that heritage and the environment are not nice extras but vital components of our world.
Well the signs are good today anyway.
Sunday 2 December 2007
In tv wildlife shows broadcast from remote Scottish islands,
excited presenters whisper your name to camera
imply only patience stands between us and you,
a view shared by the makers of roadsigns.
We however have only ever been teased
by your footprints; leftovers from your meals
found on coastal rocky outcrops
and stories told us in hotel breakfast rooms.
Told in quieter whispers when we return home
are stories of your kind in our town
leaving footprints by our less romantic waters.
Our fingers cross now on every weekend walk.
Roadsign for Totally Optional Prompts
Saturday 1 December 2007
We were able to watch this heron for a while as it wrestled with (and swallowed) a large fish then flew up river to drink and rest.
We then walked into Colinton, which is a village that has become part of Edinburgh but still retains its village feel. Just as we were about to get on the bus to come home, we saw several redwings in the trees near the bus stop. Redwings are one of the UK's winter thrushes, so it must really be winter now.
You can read about more of our weekend walks by following these links:
Walk for Sunday Scribblings
Friday 30 November 2007
Seeing Dragons in the Clouds is an exhibition of the 'Art of the Imagination'. Lizzie Farey looked back to her childhood watching swallows in the sky and created some beautiful impressionistic willow sculptures of swallows. I was also particularly struck by the case of wonderful insects (I didn't make a note of this artists name unfortunately) made from plant parts, a comment on mimicry and camouflage in insects but also an example of incredibly skilled craft.
Both exhibition are on at the City Art Centre until 12 January 2008.
Thursday 29 November 2007
The Yellow Rain by Julio Llamazares, translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa. Published in Spanish in 1988, translated into English 2004.
Tuesday 27 November 2007
Monday 26 November 2007
rocks and stones for One Deep Breath
Continue reading my review here (mine is the second review on the page, just scroll down). I would definitely recommend this book to all the birdwatching poets out there!
Sunday 25 November 2007
expecting food -
a squirrel runs to me
and hugs my leg.
I write a lot of poetry about animals, especially birds. Here are some examples from the archives:
I have also posted several poems featuring birds over on Bolts of Silk, the most recent being:
Animals for Totally Optional Prompts
Friday 23 November 2007
there is more than one type of mango.
When I had arrived I had tried one
that was green and stringy and sickly
with a strange metallic tang.
The second, the orange lay in hiding
growing only on shade loving trees,
eaten only by people who know
what a stone well aimed at a branch
can dislodge from a mango tree.
I must admit I was doubtful when a friend
said these ones were different
but the orange mango was heaven
as I bit into sweetest flesh
and the juices ran over my chin.
I came back to the UK too soon
still craving that flavoursome mango.
I went to the supermarket that I thought
would stock what I wanted
and yes they had rows upon rows of mangoes
and every last one was green!
An old poem on the topic of Food for Read Write Poem
Monday 19 November 2007
California, family holiday when I was 7 - flew
Poland - archeology dig (when everyone else I knew was at their graduation ceremony) - ferry and train, 48 hours of train as I remember...
France - conservation working holiday - ferry and train and bike
Malawi - two years VSO (UK Peace Corps equivalent) - flew
Zimbabwe - holiday when living in Malawi - bus through Zambia, 48 hours of bus with 5 hours stuck in Lusaka bus station. We missed the bus back and so had to fly...
Botswana - holiday when living in Malawi, train from Harare (Zimbabwe)
Germany - several trips, usually with ferry and trains.
Austria - train from Germany
Amsterdam - usually ferry, unless then going on through Germany in which case I have flown sometimes
Spain - exchange trip, flew
Jersey - conference and holiday - flew
Italy - conference and holiday - flew
Scottish islands - numerous visits - ferry, train, local buses, school buses and hired cars.
I've occasionally flown to Bristol for work reasons as the train takes far too long to be justifiable for work purposes. I flew to London with a colleague once but generally take the train to London as that train is speedier in real terms than the flight. I try to avoid flying for environmental reasons, but also I enjoy seeing the scenery from a train or a bus. I like birdwatching from the deck of a ferry and seeing island scenery - an overnight ferry with a film, a couple of drinks and a meal with a nice cabin to sleep in is a very civilised way to travel, I think.
Sunday 18 November 2007
Saturday 17 November 2007
Festuca rubra shimmers red
Digitaria ischaemum smoothly fingers the air
Agrostis curtisii bristles and bends in a curtsey
Elymus caninus slowly wags its beard
out in the undulating fields
even their names are more beautiful than lawn
their colours greener.
Festuca rubra - red fescue
Digitaria ischaemum - smooth finger grass
Agrostis curtisii - bristle bent grass
Elymus caninus - bearded couch grass
Grass for Weekend Wordsmith
1. I once bumped into an elephant. I was camping in Victoria Falls campsite with a friend and going back to the tent in the dark one night we were scared of stepping on snakes so we were focussing the torch on the ground, then suddenly oops - there was an elephant right in front of us!
2. I hate the smell of Himalayan Balsam. It may be a pretty flower but it stinks!
3. I couldn't face the thought of going to my Graduation Ceremony so I went on an archaeology dig in Poland, much more fun! Then somehow I ended up with two graduation certificates!
4. I find really cool things in the streets - I've found a lovely silver ring with black stones, a wooden ottoman with a velvet lid that looks perfect in the bay window in our bedroom, and books of course.
5. I can't stop buying second hand books, I keep telling myself its an excellent form of recycling and my purchases help charity - both true but how am I going to find time to read all these books?!
6. When I was living in Malawi, one of my fingers swelled up and turned green. I had to lance it with a needle and then it went back to normal.
7. I can't cut in a straight line, as anyone who's ever had a homemade greetings card from me can tell you.... (This is one of the reasons I could never sell the greetings cards i make!)
Now I know this meme is doing the rounds, so I'm not going to tag anyone, but if you want to join in, consider yourself tagged!
Friday 16 November 2007
1. Experience poetry - read poetry blogs, read poetry books, read poetry journals, go to poetry readings and listen to other poets, listen to poetry on CD or online. Read poets who immediately appeal to you and try some of those who don't. (In the UK, second hand bookshops are great places to find poetry books, you can try new poets for as little as £1 a book). Absorb poetry so that it is part of you!
2. Think about poetry - write mini reviews on your blog, discuss with other poets about the poetry you like and why, read poetry actively, thinking about what works for you and what doesn't.
3. Write poetry - you may not like what comes out of your pen at first but keep writing!
4. Write with feeling, genuine emotion is one of the most powerful elements of poetry. However, restrain your passion so that it drives your poetry rather than swamping it.
5. Be specific - the more specific the details you're writing about, the more vivid the poem is for the reader.
6. Pay attention to craft - if you're writing formal verse, study the form and use it well. If you're writing free verse, pay attention to how words sound together and the rhythm of language. Otherwise what you're writing is just prose chopped up into short lines.
7. Revise your work, once you've written it, put it away for at least a day and then look at it again with a fresh eye. It's amazing how much polishing you can do with a fresh eye!
8. Share your poetry - post poetry on your blog; go to a poetry writing workshop; go to an open mic poetry reading and read some of your poetry; find some poetry journals (either online or in print) that you like, read them carefully (subscribe to some print journals!) and send some of your poetry there.
9. Listen to people's opinions of your work, most bloggers in the online poetry communities are polite and won't really criticise work unless you ask for it. Editors are more likely to give criticism, but they mean it constructively, listening to experienced readers and writers can help you to improve your writing - and you are allowed to ignore them if you disagree with what they say!
10. Join in some of the poetry communities online - such as Totally Optional Prompts, Read Write Poem, One Deep Breath (for haiku).
1. Don't feel you need to follow poetical fashion, there are enough poets out there trying desperately to show that they can follow. Be your own poet.
2. Don't expect to make money out of poetry. Some print journals pay but none pay much. Most poetry books don't sell many copies. Most poetry competitions don't give big cash prizes.
3. Don't be obscure. You can't expect all your readers to understand all your poetry but avoid being overly clever or obscure just for the sake of it. (The internet is great, you can make links to eg species of bird unique to your area to help readers from another country)
4. Don't be lazy about language - avoid cliches, archaic language, vagueness.
I tag: Whirling Dervish or Deb at Stoney Moss, Melissa at Poet with a Day Job, Darlene at Daisies and Tiel at Knocking from Inside.
Thursday 15 November 2007
The azure's smile has frozen
above the rocks and rocked hard.
The comparison 'like an eagle'
has lost all meaning.
She has the ability too to make political points through observations of the natural world:
And the sobbing throat of water
is stopped up with a lump of ice
And the birds shall return
and with their beaks shall melt the ice into song
(from Almost Prophecy)
So this is political poetry written under oppression, but the very fact of needing to be careful of official censorship has forced the writer to avoid being overtly political so the poetry is lyrical too.
Blaga Dimitrova (1922 - 2003) one of the most popular and loved writers in Bulgaria, was vice president of her country in the first democratic government after the fall of communism.
Wednesday 14 November 2007
Seeing the Half Dome in Yosemite Park made the sore legs worthwhile
Chipmunks darted to my hands to eat the nuts we had brought to Muir Woods
Walking down hot hot sand to the joy of cold water at Lake Tahoe
Dusk, hummingbirds hovering on feeders in a suburban garden
Because I'm British, on my Alter Ego blog, My Sentences are Not American
American Sentences for Read Write Poem
Tuesday 13 November 2007
When I select poetry to include on Bolts of Silk, I am drawn in by writers who can evoke the atmosphere of a specific place (though a sense of place isn't a prerequisite for poetry being selected!) Recent poems on Bolts of Silk inspired by place include:
Firewirks owre Bressa Soond by Christine De Luca
Fire Ranger by Bob Bradshaw
If I Were Young Again by Michael Lee Johnson
Place is often the starting point for my own poetry, especially the poetry I post on this blog. Place offers a wonderful starting point for exploring nature or history or emotion. I also think including the specific details of specific places in poetry adds immediacy. Some of my recently posted poems inspired most directly by place include:
Through an Open Window
Monday 12 November 2007
Sunday 11 November 2007
Saturday 10 November 2007
Friday 9 November 2007
Thursday 8 November 2007
Wednesday 7 November 2007
Tuesday 6 November 2007
Watching the sunset over Lake Malawi
canoeing through the Okavango Delta
standing in front of Victoria Falls
red squirrels dancing towards us as we walk through pine woods
a fox stealing our sandwiches in the Royal Botanic Gardens
red legged choughs off sea cliffs in Wales
a humming bird hawkmoth on buddleia in Edinburgh
humming birds on feeders in California
a kingfisher flying across the red canal
the moon turning orange during lunar eclipse
an electric storm over the Mediterranean Sea
Unforgettable for Writers Island
Monday 5 November 2007
Why not Join the Campaign?
Sunday 4 November 2007
Saturday 3 November 2007
The weather has been beautiful today, very mild for November and with perfect blue skies. We walked round Arthur's Seat - from the first photo, you'd not think you were in the middle of Scotland's capital city, would you? There were a few birds around including some very aerobatic crows. The trees are stunning at this time of year, especially when the light shines on the leaves.
Friday 2 November 2007
on orange leaved rowan -
sun rises red
on red leaved rowan -
on yellow leaved rowan -
pink morning sky
Wild rowan has red berries, the trees around Edinburgh with their varied coloured berries must be ornamental varieties.
Money for Sunday Scribblings
Thursday 1 November 2007
Wednesday 31 October 2007
Rich sweet earth smell of mushrooms
teases me from the garden
unrecognised feast or fatal temptation?
But wait, this stirs memories
I am old, death is anyway close
I will go where lead, butter fry
and eat with finest wine.
Yes this is exquisite, the same
as I ate years ago in joy
of survival, sensual reality
of food after death had threatened
after a boot had held my head
to the soil, a gun in my mouth
and my only comfort the
rich sweet earth smell of mushrooms.
(previously published in Envoi)
We went north for mushrooms –
boletes for frying gently in butter for omelettes,
elusive apricot scented chanterelles promising heavenly flavour,
common false chanterelles stubbornly unscented, unflavoured,
bright fly agaric dramatic for danger.
On the other side of the world
sowed the seeds
for the next mushroom cloud.
previously published in Raindog
Monday 29 October 2007
Sunday 28 October 2007
Friday 26 October 2007
The exhibition finishes on Sunday, so if you're in Edinburgh, make sure you put it on your must do list for this weekend!
Wednesday 24 October 2007
Pink for October
Tuesday 23 October 2007
Some ideas to save energy:
Only boil as much water as you need in the kettle
Use public transport, walk or ride a bike instead of driving
Don't leave appliances on standby
Fit energy saving lightbulbs and only have lights on when you're in the room
Put a jumper on rather than switch the heating on
Turn the thermostat down when you do have the heating on
Wash the laundry at 30 degrees Celsius
Fit loft insulation and cavity wall insulation
Fit double glazing
Monday 22 October 2007
Sunday 21 October 2007
Edinburgh Kite Festival: The fields below Salisbury Crags are crowded with familes, students, groups of youngsters, dogs. The blue air is full of multi-coloured kites of all types jostling against each other, swooping or gliding, climbing and falling. The sounds of laughter everywhere.
Red Kites: Going on holiday to the Black Isle, knowing that there might be a chance of seeing Red Kites. The birder's anticipation of a rare species. Nothing though can prepare for the thrill of a kite appearing on the wing in front of you, glowing vibrant in colours even the best field guides never prepared you for. Pure energy of a raptor, the joy of a bird now not so rare as it was.
Kites for Weekend Wordsmith
Friday 19 October 2007
Thursday 18 October 2007
You can read them here (scroll down).
He's looking for poetry, flash fiction and short creative non-fiction. He prefers work to be previously unpublished but will accept work that has been previously published if credits are included. New writers and established are all welcome. Why not send him some work?
Wednesday 17 October 2007
music in the sound of an unknown
tongue drifting in the breeze
a river rushes by
a red book
on a wooden table -
its pages shiver.
On Hearing a Lute-Player by Liu' Chang-ch'ing
Your seven strings are like the voice
Of a cold wind in the pines,
Singing old beloved songs
Which no one cares for any more.
the only translated poem in a red book of Chinese poetryfor Totally Optional Prompts