Thursday, December 13, 2012

Here I answer questions set by ‘Blog Hop’ and introduce some poets I like, with a link and a sample: Chrys Salt, Liz Niven, Douglas Lipton.

The “Next Big Thing Blog Hop” - authors who have been tagged answer ten set questions on their blog or website about their next book. They then tag more authors, who can pick up the baton if they choose.
With thanks to Mike Horwood  who tagged me. Mike’s blog is at

1) What is the working title of your next book?
‘From Coiled Roots’
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
Slow evolution – the title was a long time coming. I want to convey the idea of outcomes, some good, some bad, coming from difficult places, darkness – Yeats said that the ‘ladders’ start from ‘the foul rag and bone shop of the heart’. I like that.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I’d like to hear how my poems would sound with a French accent. Maybe Gerard Depardieu. Or Isabelle Huppert, now that would be something.
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
It explores roots that push in different directions: upwards to the joy of creativity and the celebration of loved ones; downwards into history, sexuality, and ‘petals on a dark road’ – consolations in the face of human transience.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be published by Indigo Dreams in June 2013.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Depends what counts as a beginning. It includes some poems that go back 20 years. To get a  first draft starting from the idea of getting a collection together, maybe 2 years.
8) What other books would you compare your work to within your genre?
Not sure that comparisons apply. I like the wildness of some Scottish poets, past and present, the mix of the down-to-earth, ‘coarseness’ if you like, and what you might call the spiritual, the lyrical, the melancholy and the awareness of suffering. Burns and Dunbar come to mind, on a totally different level.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Life and death.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Depends on the reader. I suspect themes like history, sex, belief and mortality might appeal to older rather than younger readers.

Here are three authors I like, out of many. Most don’t have blogs, but do have websites, with samples of their poems. I’ll present some more authors in weeks to come.

Chrys Salt

Chrys Salt’s work has appeared in many anthologies, magazines and journals. Chrys is a trained performer as well as a poet. She is Artistic Director of the Bakehouse, a flourishing arts venue in South West Scotland Her most recent collection is Grass (Indigo Dreams ISBN:  978-1-907401-85-5  Price: £7.99).

Here’s a sample – I love the zest, the fertility of the details, the humour and the truth behind it.

Sex of one

Dave Cork and me behind the chicken shed.
‘You show me yours, I’ll show you mine’ he said.
Some of his Wrigleys for a flash,
that was the deal. (I wanted cash)!
Dave was an ‘only’ and lived opposite
I had a brother, seen his stupid snail bit
in the bath. I knew a thing or two!

Dave Cork’s was not much cop.
A bit more walnutty and sticking up,
a tinys dribbling eye on top and thinly thatched.
He had it in his hand, said I could feel.
I didn’t fancy it. ‘Now show me yours’ he said.
I stared him out, all snooty and detached,
pulled down my navy knickers.
lifted up my skirt.
He peered, his snotty nose up close.
looked hurt. I wouldn’t let him touch.
He shrugged and said ‘You ain’t got much,
did someone cut it off?’
Then poking behind his molars
hooked the promised gum and offered it
half chewed with no mint left
and full of Dave Cork’s spit.

A sticky metaphor perhaps
of Things To Come…?

Liz Niven
Liz Niven is one of Scotland's most popular poetry facilitators. She is a poet writing in English and Scots.She has published several poetry collections, including The Shard Box, Burning Whins, Stravaigin (Luath Press Ltd).

A sample. I like the pathos, and the seeming simplicity – so hard to bring off. It refers to the ‘homecoming year’ (2009) – a series of events designed to attract people of Scottish ancestry to visit Scotland.

Hamecomin blessins

oan the faimilies waitin,
breid, watter and mair oan the table,
bed made, hoose trig,
bit naebodie comes hame.

oan the folk wi nae hames tae gan tae,
cooried, at the hin en o a dreich nicht,
intae cairdboard boxes or
warmin hauns roon a brazier unner a bypass
win flappin roon faces shilpit an wan.

oan the sodger hunkert doon
in a bluid-soakt sheuch,
or the refugee staunin
at the black-brunt shell o hoose.

Blessins oan
thaim whae come hame,
thaim whae dinnae ,
thaim wi nae hame tae gan tae.
in this Hamecomin year.

Douglas Lipton

Dumfries writer, widely published, many collections. Douglas has collaborated extensively with other performers and performing groups. Here’s a sample of his poetry, recently published in Orizont Literar, with Romanian translation. I like the way it catches the breathlessness of the narrator, who is almost forced to echo the mad, ancient-mariner-like protagonist. The black humour seems perfectly judged:

“A Good Sink”: an Ancedote

I must tell you this, though.
It’s this. That we were up in Sutherland
Thinking of buying a house.
We’d seen one advertised, but when
we got there it was all shut up.
We looked around outside anyway,
peering through the windows and so on.
A man came up to us. Local.
“Do you want a house to buy?”
he said. “I’ve got a house you can buy.”
He insisted, really insisted,
so we followed him. He took us
inside. “Look,” he said.
“It’s got a sink.” (Full of peelings
and filthy dishes.) “A good sink.”
We nodded. “A good sink, yes.”
“And a cooker. A good cooker.”
“A good cooker, yes.” “A good cooker.
It cooks. It works.” Yes. Yes.
We nodded. We knew it could cook
from the pot pourri glazed on the hob.
“I’ll just ‘phone them, then,” he said.
“I’ll ‘phone them. You stay there.”
He lifted the receiver, dialled
and waited – A good sink.
A good cooker. This house?
This man? – He was speaking.
Pausing.  Speaking. Our eyes
trailed the flex to its disconnection
at the socket. “We need to go now.
Now. Sorry. We’re – we’re late.
Must go.” “What? Just a – No, wait.
It’s good. It’s good. A good sink.
A good –.” We backed away.
Later that day he took a razor
to the minister. We had been there,
in his house with him.
Just us and him.

1 comment:

  1. I´m greatly looking forward to reading `From Coiled Roots´, Donald.