Sunday, 30 March 2014

Thoughts on drones

I need to read over music at the Fragment of Reds event on the 5th April - the original music gleaned from notation in the Missal fragment. - so I have been researching the use of drones.

Official publicity photo for Fragments of Red

And there is some extant troubadour tradition to suggest how this might be achieved:

for example, in a study the anonymous writer (all very mysterious - no name to cite!) makes these observations:

The most striking differences between these interpretations lie in their instrumentation and accompanimental [sic] patterns...

  • a woman sings over a persistent hurdy-gurdy drone, with a lute (the long-necked saz) accenting certain syllables and playing interludes between verses. Between the third and fourth verses is a lengthy interlude involving hurdy-gurdy, lute, and percussion – this is motivic and does not imitate the melody of the singer.
  • this piece features a soprano ...who is doubled throughout by a fiddle, with a lute that is most audible between verses.
  • [The next example's] interesting performance includes a rebec drone, over which the full 
  • melody is played first by a lute and then by a flute. While the flute plays, a man recites two verses of the poem, in English translation, following which the flute and lute play the melody together with nakers and a rebec drone. 
  • As for the concluding performance..there is simply a solo female voice. 

So I get to play around with my stresses this week. I don't have a live musician or music to follow me so it is question of my working my words into the chant. I am reading a sequence that is deliberately fragmentary...and I already know that I won't feel precious about recreating it exactly as the printer version suggests. We'll see. I'll keep you posted.

(Maybe 4 minutes of vertigo...)

More on the writing Fragments project here and there will be more opportunities to experience the poetry and art produced later in 2014.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Taos Amrouche sings Kabyle

We have had visitors from lots of countries - the list is at the bottom of the page - but today we welcome Algeria to our pages. ترحيب الجزائر

And let's enjoy a little bit of Taos Amrouche - an activist in Berber issues and one of the founders of Académie berbère in 1966 - singing in the Berber language Kabyle here and while we are at it poet Samira Negrouche talks languages too here..

Monday, 24 March 2014

Neu! Reekie! take New York

Neu! Reekie! - the inventors of the Raffle of the Absurd and so much more - did 2 shows in New York this weekend.

Reviews were ecstatic as only to be expected.

Thank you Neu Reekie for being ridiculously adorable
 and bringing me on to your Scottish brigade tonight. xoxo

Let's hope for a surge of cross-cultural-pollination...

Get a snatch of rather enjoyable flavour here

Fragments update

Fragments of Red is less than 2 weeks away.

The final details of the performance schedule are being ironed out. Today I sat on the grass at Melrose Abbey - a surprise in itself - with artist Jane Gaze, Gordon Turnbull of The Flow and Tim Fitzpatrick of The Red Field. The poetry that the writing Fragments team have worked on will form part of the event once we get to Melrose Parish Church. And we have been thinking of ways to do this. Maybe with me reading over music. It will be an interesting challenge and I want to use the poems in a slightly non-conventional way.

The audience will also be able to experience the Hawick Missal itself presented alongside our responses in poetry and art. And then into the night.

Today however thoughts were also on the will it/will it not be here question of the scaffolding.

A beautiful day today in the Borders. This project has been a real pleasure to work on and I can't wait until the performance itself now. More here

...enjoy an evening of song and a procession of music, text and imagery along a path of shimmering red light.

Woman Scream International Poetry Festival Middletown Connecticut USA 29th March 2014

Woman Scream/Grito de Mujer International has its origins in Dominican Republic. This event has grown to be worldwide and Free Poets Collective is proud to be the first to bring Woman Scream to Connecticut.

You can join in as this program is open to community partners and welcomes collaborations so speak out and raise your voice, or scream it.

Poet Priscilla Galligan is reading from her new poetry book Decibels from silence to screams; also featuring poets Jessica Brooke Miller, Susan Mardinly, Nicole Goodwin, Lisa Matarazzo and music from Izikhotane and singer songwriter Lisa Lawrence Uzanas. Moderator Marianela Medrano.

More on Women Scream events around the world

March Over The Edge: Open Reading March 27th 2014 Galway, Ireland

Enjoy 3 featured readers at this event:

Breda Spaight is a poet and novelist from Co Limerick. Her poems have appeared in The Stony Thursday Book, Revival, and Skylight 47. Maureen Curran lives in Donegal where she is a teacher. She is one of the organisers of the North West Words readings in Letterkenny. And Afric McGlinchey’s debut poetry collection, The lucky star of hidden things, based partly on her upbringing in Zimbabwe,was published in 2012 by Salmon.

Open mic afterwards and new readers welcome. Do you pay? No - I think the reading is is in a Galway City Library too. A nice one. 6.30-8.00pm.

You can find out more here, here, and here

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Poetry robot app

This is free from Scrumble Studios. It doesn't do much. It presents you with a poem that you can share by email or Facebook. The lines repeat in random stanza lengths and order. So quite arbitrary. It is from a while back too.

However the image of the colourful goats will live on...and this could be quite fun if it had a few more lines to scramble. Here is the poem is a more readable format.

Powerful and peaceful versus the summer
I command colorful goats behind the spring
Be transparent. The evil gets weird
Dark and drab regarding the trees
You conjure zealous inspirations up the fog
Crazy! The demon will come again
All scary off the fog
I examine drab illusions despite the mud
Oh God! The Queen is over

(Generated by the Robot Poetry Windows 7 Phone App)
You can find at your relevant app store.

And let us know if you have poetry apps you want us to review...preferably better than this one.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

News from our competition winner

Nice to see that we have made it into Joan McNerney's bio details - you may recollect Joan was our competition winner of 2013 -

Details of this year's competition and its judge will be coming soon...but in the meantime you can read some of Joan McNerney's recent work in the splendid Oregon-based Blue Hour Magazine here

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Last call for poetry issue 8

We need your stuff and we need it now. Deadline for copy for Issue 8 is March 30th 2014. Thanks to all who have already sent work in and we will be getting in touch with you soon.

More details and a chance to catch up with previous editions here

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Sunday, 9 March 2014

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock: percentage values

Let's take a look at Prufrock's themes on a graph:

If you still need to, you can read T.S Eliot's whole poem here

Magma 58 Scottish launch Edinburgh 12th March 2014

A chance to grab a Magma hot off the press in volcanic surroundings. Plus some great readers...John Glenday, Helena Nelson, Kona Macphee, Andrew Philip, JL Williams, Pippa Little, Lesley Harrison, Tom Docherty, Seth Crook, Stav Poleg, Claudia Daventry and the lovely etc.

Meet the next editor for Issue 60 Rob A. Mackenzie who (with Tony Williams) is editing issue 60 will also be there.

Free! From 7.30pm at the Blind Poet, 32 West Nicolson Street, EH8 9DD and be punctual apparently.

Find out more about Magma here

Friday, 7 March 2014

Angels in trees

I have always been much interested in William Blake's visions especially the angels which I imagine that he saw in trees when staying in Sussex from 1800 until 1803.

Thinking about this while I am planning a workshop inspired by Blake's poem Auguries of Innocence (not to be mixed up with the Songs of Innocence) and especially the opening lines:

To see the world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wildflower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour...

The poem itself is much longer than this extract suggests and worth reading. But I am interested in these zen-like instructions for now as the start of a writing exercise. At its dullest you might call it from the specific to the general! At best poetic contemplation, once learned, allows visions.

Blake would argue the poet as a conduit between god and man. Or maybe a force of nature.

I wrote a poem about this myself but my angels were rather more like Wim Wenders'.

You can find out more about William Blake here and you can read the full poem here

Monday, 3 March 2014


And this is what it was like driving up and over Soutra this morning. This is a poem about the birds going but the movements of arrival and leaving are sometimes not so different after all...


LEAVES, summer's coinage spent, golden are all together whirled,
sent spinning, dipping, slipping, shuffled by heavy handed wind,
shifted sideways, sifted, lifted, and in swarms made to fly,
spent sunflies, gorgeous tatters, airdrift, pinions of trees.

Pennons of the autumn wind, flying the same loose flag,
minions of the rush of air, companions of draggled cloud,
tattered, scattered pell mell, diving, with side-slip suddenly wailing
as they scale the uneasy sky flapping the lapwing fly.

Plover, with under the tail pine-red, dead leafwealth in down displayed,
crested with glancing crests, sheeny with seagreen, mirror of movement
of the deep sea horses plunging, restless, fretted by the whip of wind
tugging green tons, wet waste, lugging a mass to Labrador.

See them fall wailing over high hill tops with hue and cry,
like uneasy ghosts slipping in the dishevelled air,
with ever so much of forlorn ocean and wastes of wind
in their elbowing of the air and in their lamentable call.

This poem is by Rex Warner (1906 - 1986) who is now probably known best as an English novelist and you can find more here