Those who attended the SWC event on May 8th were in for a treat, as four vibrant poets read from their new collections all published by Red Squirrel Press. There was an eclectic mix of poetry on offer with something to suit everyone in the enthusiastic and receptive audience.
Opening the evening was Brian Johnstone, who read from his pamphlet Jukebox Jeopardy. Styled as an LP, Johnstone’s pamphlet is colourful and fun, much like the poetry within it. Johnstone showcased poems which explored music through from the 1950s through to the early 1970s, interspersed with relatable themes such as youth, progression and the dispersion of families. Johnstone was a warm and engaging speaker who utilized the musicality underlying his poems to wonderful effect. After he had finished reading, I am sure I was not the only one left intrigued as to what other gems could be found inside the pamphlet LP Jukebox Jeopardy.
Following on from Brian Johnstone was the talented writer and editor Elizabeth Rimmer, who read from her new book of poetry, Haggards. Haggards’ deftly crafted poems largely focus on nature, plants and flowers, however, a highlight of Rimmer’s reading for me was the emotionally charged, ‘Scouring’ which explores the poet’s thoughts and feelings following her husband’s spell in hospital and ends with the poignant line, ‘your solid presence in my life.’ Rimmer’s poems were a delight to listen to.
After a short break, it was time for Judith Taylor to take the stage. Taylor’s Not in Nightingale Country has a stunning cover which takes an artistic look at nature, which is fitting, as Taylor listed the visual arts as something she takes inspiration from. Judith read a selection of beautifully crafted poems from her collection. Highlights included the wonderful Scot’s poem, ‘Demeter Reads Scotch Encyclopedia’ and ‘Islands’ a poem which takes an unconventional look at the life of a lighthouse keeper’s wife.
Closing the evening was the charismatic and entertaining Tim Turnbull who offered us a host of poetry from his collection Avanti! which has a red cover which is as bold as the poetry itself. Read in Turnbull’s expressive Northern English accent, the poetry covered themes such as whiskey and weather- written following Turnbull’s decision to make Scotland his new home. Other themes included Jimmy Saville (!) and political issues, all told with wit. Before beginning to read, Turnbull described poetry as something which is not only written to be read but also “written for the office wall”, what he meant by this became clear as he showcased his ability to take a light-hearted, humorous approach to potentially serious issues. Poems from Avanti! were met with a laughter from the audience who seemed to have a thoroughly enjoyable evening all round.