This is pretty close to the weather today, though the wind is getting up as we go through the day. There was frost this morning and starlings all over the rowan tree, and goosanders in the river, so it is officially winter now. Gardening is almost done for the year, the last apples are in the freezer, and there is talk of Christmas.
I’ll be at the launch of a new anthology, Umbrellas of Edinburgh, edited by Claire Askew and Russell Jones and published by Freight Books. It’s happening at 6:00 at the Scottish Poetry Library, and though I haven’t lived in Edinburgh for many years, I have a poem in it which harks back to the birth of my oldest daughter, which I will be reading.
I have some new poems in the latest Poetry Scotland, and another has been accepted for the forthcoming issue of The Poets’ Republic.
My year as Makar of the Federation of Writers (Scotland) is almost up, and the news was broken today that my successor,from the 15th December, when I hand over, will be Andy Jackson. Andy has two collections of poetry to his name – The Assassination Museum and A beginners Guide to Cheating, and is an indefatigable editor of anthologies, including Split Screen and Double Bill. He will be a wonderful Makar, and I hope he has as much fun as I have had.
And I will be getting involved in more editing. I’ve found this a fascinating job, which gives me a whole new perspective on the writing of poetry. It’s a bit like hanging an exhibition, as opposed to painting a picture, creating a context for the poems to work together, getting the right lighting and position for each, but it also makes me think more about the process of writing – not just the how of technique, but the why of theme and intention. What is it we are trying to do when we sit down and write?
I have a lot of thoughts about the subjects of my poems, but if you were to ask me about how I write, or what sort of poetry I want to write, or what I think poetry is for, I tend to get impatient, and simply say I want to write the best poem I can. But what do I mean by that? These questions are not simply navel-gazing distractions, but ways to build a structure of practice so I can get deeper into the kind of understanding I need to write more coherently and consistently. It will also, I hope, give me an understanding of the kinds of poetry I don’t write, and perhaps don’t really understand. I’m loving it!