Sincerest thanks to our audience and speakers, for a terrific evening of readings from new work. Our own Derek Parkes played poetic warm-up man, followed by stories and poems from Mary Wilson, Keith Beard, Michelle Fisher, Bob Chessar, Justine McLatchie, Ann MacKinnon, Amy Anderson, Grae Cleugh, L.A. Traynor, Colette Coen, Camilla Lausas, and Douglas Thompson
Derek read on subjects as diverse as Nazi Germany, Burns Suppers, and dancing lessons, as well as from a piece entitled Cherry Blossom (recently accepted for Hardcopy magazine). Then, we enjoyed Mary’s wonderfully wry and subtle short story, Put Out to Pasture, which tackled lightheartedly the topical issue of overly materialistic children trying to lay claim to “their inheritance”.
Afterwards, we heard from four students of the SWC’s Linda Jackson (who will be performing at her own event here, on May 7th). First up, Keith read his intriguing story of conversations with an ageing hospital patient contemplating choosing her own death (whilst looking back on a colourful life as an accomplished celloist, a student in Paris, and a carer of disadvantaged girls in Glasgow’s East End). This was followed by three poems from Michelle: They Call It Love, Fairytale, and Who’s Going to Kill the Spiders? – this last being a poignant and humorous reflection on breaking up with a boyfriend, and listing the things which men can actually be good for; like spider killing!).
Bob proceeded to whisk us away to the Australian Outback, with some finely detailed prose about aboriginals roasting pig in the baking sunshine (a welcome mental break from our currently arctic weather) and childhood memories of making clooty dumpling with his mammy. Bless. Next, Justine treated us to her poems Flight and Cast – Justine also has work featured in the latest issue of Hard Copy magazine.
Then, Ann read her two very moving poems – one impeccably written in Scots, My Mindings, and another in English, Legacies, both dealing powerfully with the quiet tragedy of the deaths of ordinary people and the holes they leave in our lives. Her Scots truly came alive in being read aloud – as delicate and sacred as the subject matter which it evoked.
Amy read her six short poems: Rogart Celtic Brooch, Jellyfish Balloch Sealife Centre, Feeling Blocked Today, Govanhill November, Spate, and Thinking about the rain again. These were subtle pieces, Haiku-esque in their intensity, and I wish that everyone had a copy to re-read on their hard drive like I do! Most memorable, perhaps, was Amy’s projection of herself onto the character of a jellyfish, longing for the grace and simplicity of its mellifluous, oceanic movements.
Subsequently, we had a change of gear – not so much into Scots as into Glaswegian – with Grae’s deceptively direct short story: The Diary of Jimmy Neverleaves. There was a rhythm to Grae’s reading which gave dignity and larger meaning to a very contemporary tale of youth unemployment and disenchantment, haunted by that old lowland Scots spectre: the flawed father-son relationship. A powerfully honest piece of prose, which raised important social questions.
More variety again, as Lesley (McKay; of pen name L.A. Traynor) read about a church in Bergen and an extract from her book, Lost In Perdition (the fourth in her intriguing Tea Club series of romantic-fantasy novels). Now we were on an alternative-reality Earth, with a 600-year old warrior protagonist lamenting the execution of his witch lover, and ending with a lyrical elegy dedicated to her. You can check out the e-book editions of Lesley’s other books in her Glaswegian/Norwegian fantasy series here.
Nearing the close, Colette read her short story, All the Rest Is Silence (a subtle and witty psychological study of a daughter and mother obsessed with absolute truth). Collete also has a piece in the latest edition of Hard Copy. Douglas then felt compelled to get up and read two poems: Dear Dolly and Stars (the latter, about memories of his father, will be appearing in Ambit Magazine later this summer). Finally, Douglas publicly persuaded young Finnish poet and SWC volunteer Camilla (whose photographs of the event you see above) to deliver her first ever public performance of her work: some quietly observed poems culminating in a surrealist piece which she composed at the SWC’s Allen Ashley workshop in December. We were honoured to facilitate her initiation into the academy of performing poets!
A superb night of rather excellent readings, which showcased many blossoming talents (of whom we expect to be hearing great things in future).