Website of poet Elizabeth Rimmer


  • The Very Peculiar (and Wonderful) Burns Supper

    I was reading on Saturday night at this event. We had readings from Debbie Baker, Laura Fyfe, Anita Govan, Emma Mooney, Ailie Wallace and myself, (I’ve seen all of them before, and thought I knew what to expect, but all of them exceeded expectations, And I will happily sign Anita Govan’s ‘manifesto’, This is Poetry, any day of the week) and there was music from Amy-Lou from Dunfermline. There was also a ‘lingo bingo’ (I won a haggis) and a jumping frog competition, and it was fabulous. There will be photos on Facebook shortly, taken by SweetP Photography, and they will be amazing. Many of the profile pictures I’ve used over the years are from Sweet P.

    I’d like to thank the organisers, The Write Angle, Gossip Collective who created the opportunity to access the venue, and The Macrobert Theatre who opened the Workspace for us. You all gave us a wonderful night!

    I have been associated with The Write Angle for a few years. It is an arts hub which opens up opportunities for emerging poets, artists and musicians (and even the most tentative of beginners) to practise and showcase their craft, by organising events, which are always free to attend (often donations are welcome, but there is never any pressure) at which people are encouraged, and not merely invited, to show what they can do. And the results are always astonishing.

    It’s not always that we hear from undiscovered geniuses who have been hiding their lights under bushels – though it does happen rather more often than you might expect – but that people who didn’t think they could write, or didn’t think they had anything to say, or who didn’t think that making art was for the likes of them, are allowed to try out their own voices. They can rely on an atmosphere which will help them to discover that whatever they have to say finds its resonance with other people, that they will be heard with friendly attention. Some will find that they are unexpectedly amongst friends, or with people who share their experiences. Some will find that telling stories isn’t just gossip, but a way into sharing memories and creating history. Some will find that they’ve said something interesting, but they’d like to find ways of doing it better, and that there are people who will help them without making them feel dumb. Some will find that the rules and restrictions which intimidated them from speaking or writing or drawing don’t always matter. Some will find that there are ways of doing what they’ve been doing for ages that they never expected.

    At Write Angle events, I’ve heard story-tellers who would shame the professionals, reflective writers who can discuss current preoccupations in a more immediate way than most journalists, and singers and musicians who will be a force to be reckoned with in a year or two. I’ve seen people trying out new art forms, people wrestling with poetry who never thought that poetry was for them, or people simply realising that the way they speak is the way they are allowed to write. I’ve seen people progress from little sketches of family life to moving portrayals of historical events or searing portraits of abusive relationships. I’ve heard people try their first spoken word performances, who then went on to try a slam. I’ve heard people articulate the kind of experiences you can only share in safe spaces, and find that they are indeed safe and supportive.

    A lot of this is down to the organiser (whose name never appears anywhere on the publicity, so I won’t reveal it here). He is passionate about the arts, familiar with almost every event that goes on in the Forth Valley, and brings people together in his own inimitable flamboyant way. His initiative is one that resonates very strongly with me. Art is more than self-expression – though goodness knows, we need more of that, as society becomes more homogenous and more restrictive – it is a way we can begin to think more deeply about the shape and progress of our lives, and a way we can hold conversations with each other and find common ground. And it creates a space for something we are losing more and more – a shared sense of wonder, meaning and purpose. I love this contact with organisations who put their time effort and money where their hearts are.

  • A Quick Round-up Before the Holidays

    School’s out for summer! So I will be looking after Lucy a lot, and posts will be when I can get around to them. But beofre I disappear into the cake-making, flower-pressing, music-learning, story-reading, picking up and delivering to activity classes over the next weeks, I thought I’d catch up with what has been going on – there was more than I thought!

    I was at the launch of the Stirling Fringe Festival on Thursday night. This has been unaccountably below the radar up till now, but it looks like a truly inventive and wide-ranging mix of artistic activity, and I’m hopeful that a new era of the arts in Stirling is about to dawn. And not before time, either. The most exciting thing about the night, however, was meeting a local artist who will be having an exhibition during the fringe, Tamsin Haggis. We had a long discussion about creativity and geo-poetics, so I am really looking forward to seeing more of her work.She has a fascinating website, which you can see here, and I’ll be posting a link in the sidebar shortly.

    Creativity was also on the agenda at a reading and discussion I went to in the Scottish Poetry Library on Friday, with Christian McEwen, who wrote the very popular book World Enough and Time. She is a very nice woman, and has a lovely voice and reading style,but it did leave me rather thoughtful. Every now and again I find myself up against something that just doesn’t work for me, although everyone around me seems to love it.I don’t do well, I discover, with the notion of ‘slowing down’ and ‘wasting time’ to liberate creativity. I don’t have any bother with generating creative ideas. I do have bother turning them into useful working projects. My brain goes in fits and starts, often buzzing with way too much to do, sometimes spinning its wheels in a depressing morass of exhaustion and frustration. The trick, I’ve found, is a steady pace, enough to keep up the momentum, not so much that I lose the plot, and (horrors!) engaging the much-maligned intellect. Shifting my left brain (always a Cinderella in discussions like this) up a gear gives a project a bit of traction, and rewards the dullness of structure and habit with a satisfaction that I find genuinely liberating. Nimue of Druid Life discusses the same kind of thing here, but I’d be interested in other readers’ comments.

    In addition to keeping up the momentum on the transaltion of Virgil’s Eclogues (feel a tub-thump coming on about the relationship between the state and ownership of land, but that will have to wait a week or two)and Bernard Lonergan’s Insight (I’ve hit a hard bit, there’ll be nothing about that for a good while, till I get my head round it) Cora Greenhill introduced me to the poetry of Moya Cannon. That was a real revelation. Her poetry is on much the same ground as mine, but in many ways could not be more different. I’ll be reading and re-reading Carrying the Songs a lot over the summer, and reviewing it some time in the autumn.

    I haven’t been walking the territory much this year, but today I noticed that the wild roses and the elder flowers were in full bloom. My hayfever is too bad this week to be outside much, but the garden seems to be getting along without me. We are harvesting lettuce and gooseberries, and the strawberries are filling out nicely, though there’s none ripe yet. The roses are in full bloom, and the lavenders are just beginning.

    The house martins nest that was raided by the gulls is full of cheeping again, so I hope that brood#2 has better luck than the first one! I was weighing up this year’s nesting season, and it doesn’t seem too bad. I’ve noticed fledglings of sparrows, dunnocks, blackbirds, greenfinches, jackdaws, great tits, mallards, goldfinches, crows and magpies – and the gulls, of sourse, now very large and mousy brown, but still roof-bound. And ospreys, though these weren’t actually on my patch, but at Aberfoyle, where you can see live pictures from a webcam in the mini lodge.

    And this brings me rather breathlessly to a stop for a while. I hope to be posting over the holidays, if rather erratically, but otherwise, I will be back in august. Happy summer, everyone!

  • NaPoWriMo Day#5

    Anda Union

    Music from the grasslands.
    Thousands of horses
    will gallop through my dreams.

    I never meant to write so many haikus this month! But we’ve had to deal with an acute episode in a family health situation, and I feel very fortunate to be able to grab some quiet time to write anything at all! Anda Union is the name of a Mongolian band we heard during Celtic Connections. It was a wonderful night, not least because it took place in the Gllasgow Art Club, a venue of unbelievable elegance. Do check out the website – there are clips of their amazingly rich and complex music on it. Ever since then I have wondered how Scottish music relates to our landscape and our sense of home – wind music? rain? the sea? What do you think?

  • National Deaf Youth Theatre

    I hope you enjoy this clip from the National Deaf Youth Theatre. People who know my poem Word to Sign: Translating Swallows will get some idea what it is all about now!

  • One Leaf, One Link

    On Friday I went to the launch of the anthology created by the One Leaf, One link project in Perth. It was run by an organisation called Plus, a user-led mental health service funded by the NHS. The project ran for over a year, and produced a tree hung with leaves created in all sorts of different media,by school-children, pensioners, support workers and clients, friends and well-wishers, and poems which were mounted on hand-made paper, and beautifully displayed.

    At the end of the project an anthology was been created by Jackie Proctor, the project leader. It will be sold in Perth library in aid of the work of Plus. It has Walking on Water in it, on a page of blue and white marbled paper she chose for it.
    This was the book that was launched on Friday.It was a lovely occasion. Margaret Gillies-Brown, whom I knew from the Callander Poetry Festival, was there, and there were speeches, well-deserved tributes to those who had been involved, a song by a local primary school, and some very good chocolate cake, iced in red and with autumn leaves on it.

    I have thought for a long time – that art therapy needs to have genuine artistic aspirations and respect for production values to have any value as either art or therapy. Workshop anthologies sometimes don’t reflect this – they can be rather poor quality and rely on loyalty from the friends and relations of those participating for their success. But not this one. Jackie’s vision and craftsmanship have produced a book that is lovely to handle as well as beautiful to look at.

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