Thanks to everyone who turned out on Tuesday night at the Stirling Room in the Mitchell Library under the Aye Write banner, to hear our showcase of new writing talent from among the SWC membership (photos by Ruby).
Mary Thomson got us off to a strong start with her four poems, from poignant reflection of siblings memories of a late father (‘Sundays’), via musing on how profoundly our garments influence us (‘American Clothes’), to seeing Rembrandt’s last self-portrait as the ‘ultimate selfie’,how a loving photograph reveals both the subject and the unseen viewer.
Frances Corr then blew us away with that mellifluous east-coast accent of hers, allied to a unique, gentle and penetrating perspective on the world. Her short story exploring the stream of consciousness of Mister Whisper, a lonely man with learning difficulties, braving the shops in his ‘depressing trousers’ and offering a world view different from our own and yet mysteriously uplifting.
Bob Chessar then took the floor with two affectionate poems, firstly exploring the personification of the sea in terms of the heavenly bodies she reflects, the second musing on the wisdom of renowned Glasgow poet Tom Leonard, a sort of meta-poem, again wryly exploring the inexhaustible topic of love.
Don Talyor gave us three poems, beginning with the two-part ‘What The Cow Thought About The Rain’, which gave us a new perspective on a world we all think familiar, gently and strangely profound in its minimalism. Followed by ‘Welcome Back Mrs Teh’ and ‘The Institute’, musing respectively on the world of a Tai Chi instructor, and what a long-term life in education can do to a person’s soul.
Reliable pair of literary hands, Colette Coen, gave us two short stories, the first an intimate domestic portrait of the trials of caring for ageing relatives, and the sibling tensions this can generate. The second again explored frailty and memory loss. Colette’s writing is powerfully engaged with the minute details of everyday existence, sometimes to disturbing effect.
Next Gilbert Olomenu gave us his poems ‘The Eighth Day Of Knowing You’, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘The Darkness That Surrounds Us’, exploring the vagaries of human interaction, beginning optimistically then moving convincingly into the pain of failed relationships, ending with the grimly brilliant humour of this last line: ‘…your lawyer knows me better than I do.’
Then we returned to prose, more specifically the less-common genre of non-fiction with Orly Koppel’s extracts from her forthcoming book ‘The Stupid Skirt’. Orly’s book is comprised of 52 stories drawn from case histories (names changed!) during her work as a psychotherapist in Glasgow for the last 15 years. From what we heard, the effect of all these lives brought together in one volume amounts to something greater than its parts: a portrait of the Glaswegian human condition in all its bizarre facets. One patient turned up in his pyjamas so as not to be late for the appointment.
Rona Fitgerald’s poems were of unexpected power, and I hope to hear and read more of them in future. Most powerful of all was ‘Dark Matter’ which spoke of tramps, one “wrapped in obsidian layers” with “the world on his back”, and ended with the breath-taking line: “the black helped her to disappear, to care less, and to be free.” I know the feeling.
We finished up with poems from two long-standing friends of the SWC, Ingrid Lees and Derek Parkes. Ingrid gave us her poetic musings on topics from Mull to Migration, and even a poem about one of our other readers of the evening (!) encouraging them to speak out more confidently. Derek rounded off the evening in his dulcet cockney tones with his moving revelation that “Scotland is home now”. We are all of course honoured and enriched by everyone who so warmly embraces our little country.