Report on 10 February Readings

After a beautiful sunny day in Edinburgh, the haar (sea-mist) fell over Edinburgh about 3.30pm on 10 February and immediately the temperature dropped, the air dampened, and the whole city was shrouded in cloud. The audience was smaller for the reading than I had hoped, but perhaps some people are still wandering about in the fog trying to find the bar, trying to find any bar.

It didn’t affect the readers who were all terrific. One good thing about them is their lack of ego. No one cared who went on first, last or in between, but the order they read in worked really well. They each write very different poems and are excellent readers. The result yesterday evening was predictably superb, but quality was the only predictable thing.

First was Cheryl Follon whose poems are packed full of sonic explosions and breathless rhythms – it’s hard to imagine a more dynamic start to a poetry reading. Second was Christie Williamson. I had met Christie a few times but had never heard him read and knew his work less than any of the others, but he was simply a revelation: funny, pointed, and well crafted poems, both in English and in Shetlandic dialect. Third was Hazel Frew. Hazel’s poems set a meditative tone, the diction precise and illuminating. Really strong work. Finally, Sandy Hutchison, whose range is as wide as any poet writing today, gave a reading that was witty, surprising and uncategorisable. He sang too, between poems.

So another cracking night at the Grog. Everyone I spoke to in the audience was blown away by the performances. The haar hasn’t yet lifted but for a few hours last night it was summer again.

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