Thanks to everyone, speakers and audience alike, who turned out last night for our January Showcase/Speakeasy Event. It was a remarkable evening with a plethora of fascinating readers from the diverse range of the Glasgow-based writing organisations that the SWC sought to bring together for the night and strengthen our bonds with through the mutual ritual of reading one’s own work aloud! For speakers, there is nothing quite like reading aloud for learning the strengths and weaknesses of your own work, and for listeners there is a smorgasbord of ideas and styles to make up a rounded evening.
Alison Lang of the SWC’s own Gaelic Writing Group kicked off the proceedings with her fantastical bilingual story of ‘The Big Black Book’, a tall tale within a tall tale that may or may not have ended up lying on a transatlantic seabed being nibbled by lobsters.
Alison was followed by Jim Hamilton of the SWC Scots/English Writing Group, reading from his tense short story ‘Brilliant Cut’ on the theme of glass, culminating in a shocking denouement.
Next Read Raw Ltd were ably represented by the formidable trio of directors Ian Hunter, George Colkitto and Wullie Purcell. Poet Ian regaled us with his dry wit on such diverse topics as Donald Trump and The Banana Splits, while George read from a series of deeply moving poems concerning love and loss, including ‘Your Tree’ and ‘Although That Love Was Mine’. Wullie astounded everyone with his conclusion, not just reading but singing from his cycle of poems on the subject of the dying way of life of the Scottish Fishermen and their long-suffering wives. The poetry was spot-on but I never knew Wullie was such a talented singer and musician until now, taking after his very famous ancestor Henry Purcell and proving it still runs in the family.
Next we had Sheila Templeton, Maggie Rabatski and A C Clarke of St Mungo’s Mirrorball. Sheila treated us to Auld Lang Syne and a fine poem in Scots about St Valentine’s day and ‘half a found poem’ devised on a train. Maggie transported us to the wistful atmosphere of the Outer Hebrides with her three poems, one movingly addressed to her father, another enchanting us with the idea of mysterious and romantic ‘trysts’ summed up with the line ‘meet me on Luskentyre Beach’, an offer impossible to refuse to those of us lucky enough to know the place. A C Clarke introduced us to the idea of a “Gloser” (sp?!) as poetic technique: i.e. taking each line of a famous poem we love as the first line of each verse of a new poem that we create around it. Her choice of Thomas Hardy’s Darkening Thrush written at the start of the 20th century was poignant in view of the ensuing bloodshed that shook the world, a theme not unconnected to her reflection on Da Vinci’s famous drawings of the dissection of a pregnant woman’s womb.
Next Kate Tough stood up to tell us of the thriving Southside institution that is Poetry At The Ivory, followed by poems from one of the Ivory’s stars, the SWC’s very own Derek Parkes, who regaled us with a southerly perspective on the terrors of Glasgow buses and the surprising key to understanding New Zealand accents. His subtle reflections on the Cocktail whose like he’s never tasted again left us thirsty for more.
Last but most certainly not least, Adrian Searle of publishers Freight told us about Gutter magazine and his own highly spicy and entertaining novel set in the American South early last century in the company of a photographer of venereal diseases experimenting with the first condoms. Careful! Adrian then introduced us to one of Freight’s latest protégés, Pippa Goldschmidt whose novel ‘The Falling Sky’ about a female astronomer took us deep into the mind a highly erudite scientist struggling with her first public appearance at a conference and her confrontation with a dark past and disturbing memories from childhood.
So there we are. Apologies if I left anything out or failed to summarise anyone’s contribution fairly or accurately, but all in all an incredible night that left our heads reeling, followed by a good natter afterwards that continued down at the bar. Let’s do it again some time soon folks, at your place or ours. It’s a great thing that Glasgow has such a range of thriving writing organisations so let’s not be strangers.