Chrys Salt’s new pamphlet Home Front /Front Line was launched at the Scottish Poetry Library on Saturday. I missed it, as I was in Liverpool visting family, but I did hear Chrys read from it at the Callander Poetry Weekend back in September. It is published by Roncadora Press, and is a mix of Chrys Salt’s poems reflecting on the irony of her participation in the march against the Iraq war while her son was preparing to serve there, and extracts from his letters home. It is a sensitive and deeply moving collection encompassing the loving relationship between mother and son, the tension between their different viewpoints and experiences, and the respect and integrity which holds them together.
By the time you get to the final poem The Insurrection of Poetry, the piece which might have seemed no more than a neat slogan out of context, brings the collection to a powerful conclusion:
Poems are on the march
They are singing
from the rubble of Ground Zero
the ruins of Damascus and Sarajevo
the bomb shelters of Amiriyah
the poisoned bodies of Halabja
from the mouths of murdered men folk
in Srebrenica —–
Poems all over the world
I was more fortunate on Monday to be able to be at the Tricolour readings at the Scottish National Library. AC Clark, Maggie Rabatski and Sheila templeton were reading their own poems and also the translations they make of each other’s work into English, Scots or Gaelic – a fascinating process.
Sheila Templeton’s new pamphlet from my publisher Red Squirrel Press is called Tender is the North. It is not her first publication, but it is certainly her most polished and mature work to date. I think of her poetry as intrinsically womanly writing, earthy, intelligent, sensual and humorous. It is rooted in the places she has lived and the people she loves, moving beyond nostalgia to a consideration of the nature of memory, and beyond the evocation of particular relationships and moments to an understanding of the quality of a love for a lover, language, family, home.