Monday, 12 October 2009

Sometimes you've just got to do it...

It’s Mental Health Art and Film Festival time in Scotland. The whole idea of course, is to get this condition out in the open, to de-stygmatise it and to give the ignoramuses out there a big kick up the backside. The shoe delivering the kick has the words There But For the Grace of God...printed on the sole.

As part of this festival the Makar Press Poets (for those of you who are new to this blog and to those of you who have been sleeping up the back, there are three of us: Sheila Templeton, Rowena M Love and my good self) have been invited to perform our work at a couple of events.

The first one was on Sunday past and was in the Harbour Arts Centre in Irvine, Ayrshire. We were in the bar (which was nice) and we were accompanied by a 6ft 4, skin-head, 22 year old blues-guitarist from Ardrossan called Tragic O’Hara.

At first I was a wee bit worried – and not because the blues guitarist was from Ardrossan - it was a Sunday afternoon, in a bar where people come to eat Sunday lunch. Several questions were running through my head. Would people want poetry inflicted upon them while they munch into their chicken a la whatsit? Which course would fit best with a villanelle? Should I wait until they’re eating their syrup sponge and custard before I read the one about the vasectomy?

As time approached we decided just to do our stuff and stop worrying about how it would be perceived. And the good news is that we needn’t have been concerned because it went down as well as a slice of honeydew melon with parma ham and a wee side plate of sorbet. All the tables were taken and we even had a few peeps standing at the bar.

Can I just say that Tragic was fantastic? I thought you had to be mid-life, with 3 ex-wives, 10 kids and 1 old dog to sing the blues (or is that Country and Western?). In any case, Tragic has the goods. Check him out on Youtube. Better still keep your eyes and ears open and when you find out he has a gig coming up, get yourself along there. There ain’t no substitute for a live musician. Or for live poetry for that matter. We got the usual (and I love it) comments from people saying...hated poetry at school, but you guys really brought it to life and made it relevant. One lady accosted Sheila in the loo to say, who knew poetry could be such fun!

I think we should get some sort of award or to poetry etc. Dinnae wait until we’re dead. Give us the acclaim and the rewards NOW.


Actually, I feel a wee bit of a fraud. I haven’t written a poem for over a year. Call yourself a poet, Malone? I do have the excuse that I’ve just written 134,000 words of a novel, so I’m giving myself a break. A poem will come along shortly, so it will. In the next day or two. Maybe even the next couple of minutes. (Just you sit there while I talk amongst myself).

The next event is in the Market Inn, Ayr on Thursday 15th October. Sheila and I will be reading alongside Rab Wilson. Should be good.


  1. It's wonderful that you're getting these opportunities for poetry readings... that's a form of recognition in itself. Exposure in that genre will likely have a spinoff benefit when your novel eventually debuts, too. Can't you just see the pleased look of recognition when your name is sighted splashed across its cover? It's all good publicity. :)

  2. absolutely, carol! Things going well for you?

  3. Sunday's reading rocked.
    And to the bemused man who had a forkful of his grilled-goats'-cheese-salad-on-bruschetta up at his mouth... and missed...because that was the moment I chose to get Tragic to do his thundering chords so I could introduce sincere apologies, sir!
    But as you didn't leave, we reckoned you must have enjoyed us. As did the excited lady who accosted me in the loo. She was away home to tell her granny, her man, her weans, her dog make sure they catch us next time around. All fab.
    And young Tragic O'Hara is wonderful. You can also see him on Like our Michael don't need to be old, thrice married etc etc to be a great blues singer. Tragic has a voice of a gravelly angel.
    I was very tempted to accept his invite to stay and do the pub quiz and hang out until thrown out...but as i was yawning my head aff, had to decline. Sigh. Auld age disnae come itsel, eh? Next time! I promise. Sheila

  4. have a great time tomorrow nite. too bad you can't come to the u.s. for some international poetry fest or something. alexandria va is BIG into all things scottish. (most of virginia is since its population ancestry is of scottish descent). hey, my friend, therese walsh, her first book got published yesterday! 'Last Will of Moira Leahy'. took her seven years and two major rewrites but she never quit.

  5. Sheila, well said.
    Thea, thanx for the good wishes and congrats to Therese. Great to know that all the hard work paid off

  6. Hey there guys,

    Just to let you know I did stay till kicking out time and woke up on a boat in the harbour the next day. Honest! No word of a lie. Thankyou very much for the kind words and hopefully i'll be able to catch up with you again soon.

    All the best,

  7. Hey Tragic. Good to hear from you. And I believe what you say about the boat. The guy who owned it was well oiled even when we were leaving, so I'm not surprised to hear the party moved onto his boat. I think you should write a song about his trousers.