BurnedThumb

Website of poet Elizabeth Rimmer


Cora Greenhill


  • Reading at Writers in the Bath

    me and coraHere we are, Cora Greenhill and me, just after the reading at the Writers in the Bath event Cora organises every month in the Bath Hotel in Sheffield. The room is small ( but some of the best events are in small rooms – the bookshop in Callander, and Platform Poetry in Ladybank spring to mind), and the audience was warm and friendly – and full of talented poets.

    claireThis is Claire Carter, who may not be so well known as a poet, but who will certainly soon be very well-known as a film-maker, as her debut film, Operation Moffat received a Special Jury Mention at the Banff Mountain Film Competition. Her poetry is highly finished, complex, allusive and visual, and based in landscape, because she is a cyclist as well as a mountain climber. It seems unbelievable that she is as yet unpublished.

    sheffield group Here are poets from Derbyshire Stanza, (from left to right) Linda Gould, Cora Greenhill and Alison Riley, about to read from their anthology, A Place of Wonder,  (published by Templar Poetry). The group has spent two years writing poems based in the twelve distinct areas of Derbyshire and has produced a book that will be cherished by anyone who knows and loves the county.

    This is SallyThis is Sally Goldsmith, a singer-songwriter and broadcaster, who writes songs and poems and radio pieces about the history and people of the Peak District.

    It was a delight to be in such company and to find that the English poetry scene has room for the diversity and the groundedness in local areas and communities I take for granted here in Scotland. By this I don’t mean simply ‘accessibility’ (for which many people read, disparagingly, ‘amateur’) or ‘folk’ poetry (for which people may also read ‘nostalgia’), but a high-quality, living and versatile response to the life of a region, beyond the merely local history and dialect, that resolutely demands more from poetry than can be reached by the more academic works of the mainstream publishers.

    I should not have been so surprised, however, since I heard Liz Berry read from her outstanding Black Country at the end of October (published by Chatto and Windus, and, quite rightly, garnering a whole raft of awards). Poetry does seem to be alive and well, and finding new ways and places to grow.

    Thank you to everyone who was at the Bath last week, the poets and listeners, the lovely people who bought books, and especially to Cora, who fills the room with her warmth and enthusiasm.


  • 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!


  • Thinking Like a Tree

    These are pictures from last year, and choosing them really showed me how late everything is. This time last year the alchemilla looked like this:

    and it does, just about!But in my May folder there are pictures of my iris border in full flower, and it’s only just in bud now, and all these aquilegias – barle a twinkle in the border’s eye!

    Things are beginning to move very fast now. I still have the very last daffodils, the cowslips, the lily of the valley and the tulips, while the rowan and cow parsley are in flower and the sweet rocket – which may well go on all summer is begiining to show. The housemartin nests under the eaves across the river are full of noisy chicks already, though they only came back at the beginning of the month, and the first birds – the sparrows, starlings and chaffinches have fledged, and there are young greenfinches on the riverbank, while the black-backed gulls are still sitting tight on eggs.Tadpoles in the pond are large and very lively, and the magpies are courting disaster trying to fish for them – mostly without success. All the vegetables are planted out now, and the window-boxes are ready to go into place.

    On the writing front, things are maturing nicely, mostly thanks to the conversations I have having with a poet I met at Wiston Hall – Cora Greenhill, which have not only moved me in a new direction, but made me more aware of the complex and multi-layered processes that go into my work – all of which should mean a bit less thrashing about in all directions trying to get moving, and a lot less settling for the quick and empty image-grab. If I’ve been a bit quiet lately, that’s mostly why. I’m having a moratorium on the whole jumping-in-with-both-feet thing, becoming less of a magpie-mind and a bit more grounded, persistent and nurturing to my ideas – more like a tree, maybe? It’s rather a pleasant process!



Latest Posts



Blog Categories



Archives by Date



Newsletter



Tag Cloud


admin arts arvon birds Burnedthumb Charm of Nine Herbs Colin Will Cora Greenhill dark mountain Double Bill editing eurydice rising Expressing the Earth family fiction garden gardening Geopoetics Gillian Clarke haggards herbs home Jim Carruth Kenneth White napowrimo newsletter Norman Bissell Northwords Now photography poetry reading readings Red Squirrel Press review Sally Evans Scottish Poetry Library Stanza stravaig the place of the fire The Territory of Rain The Well of the Moon walking the territory William Bonar Wren in the Ash Tree writing