Website of poet Elizabeth Rimmer


  • A Sense of Newness

    a white hellebore flower

    I haven’t written a territory post for months, and frankly, I don’t think this is it either, but a few pretty pictures might lighten the mood a little. There is increased birdsong every day, and wrens, dunnocks, robins and bluetits are everywhere. My husband leaned out of the car window yesterday as we passed two bluetits apparently locked in mortal combat on the road and shouted at them to pack it in. They disappeared over the horizon like a couple of teenagers caught in the act!

    Gardening has started, but really everything seems to have been sucked into the vortex of the pandemic. I’m not going to say much about it here – I’m sure everyone is following all the news as it comes in.

    But I am seeing a vast change in perspective, not because anyone has fundamentally changed their nature in the last fortnight, but because it is suddenly important to say different things in our conversations with each other.

    We are used to a culture where we focus on the individual (and so often on the individual solely as a consumer), on employment, with some very varied perspectives from a romanticised view of it as ‘working at what you love’, ‘living the dream’, ‘achieving your goals’, or pragmatically, as if being economically active was the only way to be relevant socially, and nationhood. Many of us have been worried about the return of fascism, or state-based oppression, but we might pause to realise that some employers can be much more ruthlessly demanding in terms of our loyalty and personal sacrifices than many states (and some states run in deference to those same employers). Society was becoming atomised, with people being subordinated to abstractions and faceless corporations, and sold personal choices that are only valid if they’re paid for.

    If we were asked, none of us actually believed this for a minute. But the only legitimate discourses on the main stream media seemed to embody it more and more, as images supersede dialogue and interactions become more structured around the technical demands of the media we’re using. But now we are in a whole new world. With all of us ‘social distancing’, we not only realise the need for human contacts, for networks of help and support outside our own households, we realise the need to speak about them, to build and strengthen them. We are willing to speak up and to say that our front-line providers of food, healthcare, social services and public work are not just paid functionaries but valuable citizens. We recognise the flaws in being asked to trust the market to regulate supply and demand, and we are talking about how to give and share and create nurturing and supportive communities. We are not only experiencing our appreciation for arts and cultural activity, we are reading together, visting on-line musems together, learning to play musical instruments or speak new languages, and praising and supporting each other to do it.

    Goodness knows how long this will last as we come out of this – I’m expecting a big rush of politicians and financiers saying we need to ‘get back to normal’ as fast as we can. I think we need to tell them that we’re in a new normal now, where friends, neighbours, arts and culture, a thriving ecology, social inclusion and compassion dominate our conversations, and community life, and we aren’t going back any time soon.

    miniature daffodils

  • The Year on the Turn


    Not a great picture, but the best I could do at the time. We have hit that time of year. The children are back at school, the rowans are red – though the birds don’t seem too bothered just yet – and there are geese overhead in the twilit sky. These are not the migratory pink-footed geese which come in from the north in astonishing numbers in September. These are greylags which have been here all year round, but which are gathering together and finding more suitable roosts for the coming harder weather.

    It is not quite autumn, although the first bronzing is showing on trees most exposed to temperature change. We have had plums, but no apples yet. The brambles are ripe, but hips and haws are barely tinged with colour, and the elderberries hard green pips. Tomatoes are ripening fast in the greenhouse, and though the winter  barley has been harvested (and one field ploughed already) the spring wheat will stand a week or two yet – much to the joy of the sparrows and finches. There are plenty of swallows and housemartins, but every telegraph wire has its long line of birds sitting, thinking about it, getting ready to move on.

    I’ve been in Edinburgh a lot at the festivals, including the magnificent Grit at the Playhouse, and helping to launch Signal, the book of responses to Ciara Phillips Every Woman a Signal Tower project. signal

    And I’m winding up the festival season at Callander, at the Poetry Weekend. It’s going to be the usual mix of poetry, book launches (including four from red Squirrel Press), book sales, performance, discussion and socialising, and this year includes a walk along the Poetry Path at Corbenic and The Write Angle’s

    Word Exchange, 

    on the Saturday evening, which sounds intriguing.

    But I’ve been using the summer pause to revisit some old projects and re-evaluate where I’m going next. I’ve done a lot of new things so far this year – poems for five anthologies, judging a competition, editing and translating, and more readings and reviews than ever, and I’ve loved it. I’ve been at my desk more and in the garden and walking the territory less, which I’m less happy about, and some things seem to have been lost in the shuffle – regular themed posts here, for one. The grounded poetics strand is one I’ll be revisiting over the next month, as well as herb poems and some thoughts about weathering changes in both personal social and environmental life. There’s a thing called ( full of mythology and politics and ecology) The Wren in the Ash Tree which is going to make its debut at Callander, and which is going to take me some time ——

    Stick around, it’s going to get interesting!

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