THE CALLANDER POETRY WEEKEND

A mountain of poets in The Trossachs – oh, how dear is that on the ear? Yes, it was worth getting up at 8am on a morning-after-the-alcoholic-night-before… and it was amazing how the 40 minute drive in beautiful Scottish countryside shook us awake. By the time we had to stand up and talk into a microphone we were chilled, cool and reasonably fine – Chris Barnes, Rachel Cunniffe and me…and we brought our own audience of one, Annalisa Allen, to join the rest. Fern, Rachel’s dog, rested in the car and made a few appearances in the garden of the Kirk Hall.

Christopher Barnes

Rachel Cunniffe

– There will be no pictures of me!

We had a wonderful time, and spent the whole of Saturday in the company of poets and their poetry. I was especially impressed with a new writer called Catherine Wiley; her poems just blew me away. I stopped by her later and told her and was so pleased that I had obviously made her day! So I’ll be looking out for her work in future. I also loved a poem about Demeter by Sheila Templeton.

Sally Evans of Poetry Scotland runs this shindig every year; she feeds and curries the poets, who come from miles to join in this celebration. Last year she took 38 poets on a boat round Loch Katrine to read from The Lady of the Lake – which is the name of the boat.

This, my second year, I felt at home with these poetry-driven people, friends already as we wove between rooms, bookshop and garden.

Money just fell out of my hands into those of the booksellers who lined the Kirk Hall. I bought Sagrada Familia by Kevin Cadwallender; Somehow This Earth by Chris Powici; and The Honey Seller by Sally Evans. I already knew Kevin and Sally’s work but it was only after hearing Chris read some new poems, and falling in love with one about bison on the Montrose coast that I decided to buy his pamphlet.

While chatting to Kevin I told him that I used to be Maggie York. He said, ‘I thought I knew your face.’ I was amazed that he remembered a lot about that version of me (I always think that people won’t remember me). He quoted the title of two books I’d produced of local poets when I had The West Press, then said, ‘I always wondered what happened to Maggie York.’

Maggie York is alive and well, living inside her own skin and name these days, trying to pay more attention to her work to get it out into the world.

I subbed five poems to The London Review of Books last night by email – let’s hope the ease of subbing isn’t a lesson in impulsive over-confidence!

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