Callander Poetry Weekend

This is my friend Angela Topping reading at the Callander Poetry Weekend this year. It was slightly later than usual, running from 7th-9th September, but was full of interesting poets, most of us returning so often it feels like a family reunion, but including new visitors and new poets, poetry and poetic forms. This year the theme was film, and we had an excellent reading from many of the poets included in the Split Screen anthology, plus a showing from Alastair Cook’s Filmpoem project.

Fiona Moore writes in her wide-ranging and intelligent blog Displacement about the Free Verse Book Fair, and its excellent service to the poetry community. Callander Poetry Week does all this and more, including a poets’ market, many, many excellent readings, an opportunity for new poets to try reading their own work for the first time (and they’ll take you outside and give you tips on how to do it if you’re nervous), and lovely food. And it’s all done by Sally Evans and Ian King for free – with contributions from friends and visitors. One year someone went out early and picked wild mushrooms for Saturday lunch. Often people bring strawberries and cake or wine and chocolates.

Indulge me a little if I include my Callander poem. It’s going to link to my next post, which is about a reading I did on Monday:

Orpheus Plays 1: Callander Poetry Festival 2006
For Iyad Alhaiatly, a Palestinian poet, finally granted political asylum in December 2006 Poetry in the Garden starts
when Colin strikes the small Tibetan bowl.
The warmed and singing bronze awakes
A humming clarity, which sounds
through noise of knife and fork, book sales,
poets checking one another out,
and gathers stillness from the rainy night.
Later, Gaelic, Arabic and Greek
will take the song from tongue to tongue
goltraighe, geantraighe, suantraighe. It seems
presumptuous to claim
that poetry has power to move
much in the grinding moneyed world,
but Ayad, remember Orpheus
playing before the Faerie King,
on bagpipes, lyre or Breton harp,
the notes of sorrow, notes of joy and notes
of peace, while Hell falls silent.
All the cruel and unusual pain
stops for one moment, the lifeless courts
and derelict halls resounding
with the music, with the chance
for respite, wisdom, hope.

I had a bit of exciting news, too. The first printing of Wherever We Live Now is sold out! Red Squirrel will be reprinting very shortly, but in the meantime I have the last few copies, so if anyone would like one, send me an email, and I’ll post one to you.

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