Monday, 20 September 2010

A pie, a pint and a whole load of poetry...

That was what the good people of Newton Mearns in Glasgow enjoyed last Friday. It was part of a week long Food Festival the local council were organising and the local library got in on the act when they asked The Makar Press Poets – Sheila Templeton, Rowena M Love and my good self – to attend and provide the poetry. Unfortunately, Rowena couldn’t take part but Sheila and yours truly were happy to fly the poetry flag.

Around 40 people turned up, a few of whom indicated at the start they had no idea what to expect.

We got so many people approaching us at the end to tell us they enjoyed the event more than they ever anticipated that it shouldn’t surprise us. But it does.

Few people habitually read poetry, even fewer people buy it, but when given the opportunity to enjoy it they appear to lap it up. It would be nice to think that they go home and search out other poets they might enjoy.

Our work is accessible, works at different levels and can be in turns touching and humourous. They’re not my words but comments people have left with us – and we didn’t have to pay them.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that with just a little effort from the great unwashed we poets would be as lauded as anybody in Hollywood, or on the tv or on the sports park.

Ooooh. Did someone just hit me over the head? Like that’s ever going to happen.

Anywho, in the interests of getting more poetry out there here’s one that went down well on Friday. (Hat tip to New Writing Scotland who published it in their collection a couple of years back.)

Wounded Knee

My black trousers stumbled to a point half way
to the skull-grey cap of my knee
while I steered my way through the corrals
of school playtime, avoiding the gunslinger
glare of bullies, who’d queue
to lassoo with threats.

Pencil point stabbed between my shoulders,
beef-jerky breath in my face
and a low growl in my ear…
…."as soon as the bell rings, you’re dead!"

I was faster than any of them
Knees and fists pumping the air,
I was the best rider
the Pony Express never had.

A half-breed scout, I wore
a Colt pistol under my belt
and an Eagle’s tail feather in my hair.
A combination that won
neither friend or foe
from reservation or ranch.

A fall…and the bony plate of my knee
became a wound with hard baked gravel
ground under the torn and grieving skin.

I grew my thumbnail especially
for that moment when the scab was ripe,
when the blood had hardened
to a brown as deep as the colour of apache skin.

I would tease off the scab…
…until baby pink skin winked in the sunlight,
fresh for the next gallop across the prairie
and the race into the unreachable horizon.


  1. I love it. Poetry is so relaxing and enriching at the same time. What a lovely weekend of camaraderie. It's really too poetry doesn't enjoy a bigger audience. Is it because we've become so enthralled with action, everything so fast paced and it takes slowing down, being still to truly savor the nuances and moods of poetry; to absorb the rhythms and let them settle quietly or significantly within us?

  2. I think you have a good point there, Martie. Slowing down and taking time to notice stuff would do us all a lot of good.

  3. Funny I should run across this post. I recently acquired a business client and, when I learned she was an assistant university professor, asked what she taught. She told me, "Creative writing."

    Being a writer, I got very excited,and asked her what she writes. She said, modestly, "I write poetry." And that was it! She asked me questions about my writing, but volunteered nothing. When I asked questions, she turned the answers back on me.

    Not one to need being hit over the head to take a hint, I quit asking her questions. But I Googled her immediately upon her exit from my office. The woman has published three books of poetry, has won all sorts of awards, and is listed in Wikipedia as an American poet of note!

    Keep telling people you're a poet, Michael... spread the word and encourage your fellow poets to do so. We all need more poetry in our lives--each and every one of us.

  4. Well said, Linda. You are SO right. Can't believe your client was so coy. We should take pride in what we do.