Introducing the March 2011 Readers – 2. Andy Jackson

Andy Jackson was born in Manchester but has lived in Scotland for 20 years. His poems have appeared in Magma, Gutter, Poetry News, New Writing Scotland, Northwords Now, Blackbox Manifold, Rising and other publications. His first collection ‘The Assassination Museum’ was published in March 2010 by Red Squirrel Press. He is currently leading a project entitled ‘Split Screen’ involving 60 other poets to create an anthology of poems inspired by movies & television.

Wild West

He moves from spreadsheets to mean streets,
the rubble prairies of his town,
overflowing bins and tumbleweed.
The drinks in here are watered down
but cheap. He knocks one back and slackens
off his bootlace tie, draws smiley faces
in the sawdust with his foot. A blackened
scowl is thrown to thrill the ladies.

The cowgirls form in grids, the sway
of tasseled skirts and clod of boots
always a continent adrift. His joy
is in the dance, the squarest root,
each bar a perfect subroutine,
a formula, a certainty of codes
which repeat and then refine
themselves, smoothing out like tides.

Lit by phosphorescent smirr of night,
dad’s old crombie glints with drizzle.
He is Alan Ladd in suit of lights,
his stetson and his smoking pistol
in a Tesco bag. A tombstone
in his guts, he rides the only stagecoach
in the west, afraid this town
ain’t big enough for both of him.


Introducing the March 2011 Readers – 1. Niall Campbell

Niall Campbell (b. 1984) from the Western Isles of Scotland graduated from St Andrews University in 2009 with an MLitt in Creative Writing. He has had work published, or forthcoming in: Poetry Review, Blackbox Manifold, Cyphers and the Red Wheelbarrow. His first pamphlet is ready and will hopefully be published in 2012. He currently lives in Glasgow.

To a Poet

I won’t be thanked for this, but I thought of you
that evening I was woken by the rat;

its scuttle – stop – and scuttle, mirroring
your cautious step; and then, its endless clawing
at the floorboards like your sailor life
spent carving out your calendar of shipwreck.

But more than this it was its human hands,
how it gnawed small pieces off the darkness.

(originally published in Snakeskin)

Introducing the February 2011 Poets – 3. Sasha de Buyl-Pisco

Sasha de Buyl-Pisco is a poet who lives in Edinburgh and works in digital marketing for an arts organisation, managing the editorial of a busy website. She writes for several publications including Central Station, Reel Scotland, Creative Boom and others. She blogs at Taxidermy Mouse.

Master of the Universe

3pm, he comes in. Every day,
like clockwork. Our mechanical man.
He does not talk. His mouth is bolt-shut,
his face a section mould cast.
Scars cross cavities and opaque eyes
crease to squint at me,
pleating his face like hot bronze.
The manager shows me what he drinks.
A pint of 80/- ; heavy, rich, the comfort of gravity.

An object at rest tends to stay at rest
and an object in uniform motion tends
to stay in uniform motion unless
acted upon by a net external force.

At his second pint,
he eases the mat out from under his glass
to spin carousel circles in his hands.
Resting the mat on the edge of the bar,
he flips it up with his fingertips,
nails scraping against varnished wood,
and catches it midair, like a trick.

An applied force on an object equals the
rate of change of its momentum, with time.

Some days, he misjudges, misses the catch and
his hand comes slamming down.
His pint topples, and glass skitters across the floor,
sends beer tiding down the counter.
The other regulars don’t even try with him anymore.
I clear away the soaking glass,
mop down the bar
and pour him another.

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Introducing the February 2011 Poets – 2. Kevin Williamson

Kevin Williamson is poet, author, publisher, activist and cosmologist. Founder and editor of the legendary Rebel Inc Magazine and the Rebel Inc imprint of Canongate Books. His first collection of poetry – In A Room Darkened – was published in 2007. He was the winner of 2005 Robert Louis Stevenson Award and is currently working on first novel Where the River Meets the Sea. He arrived lobbing paperback petrol bombs at Scotland’s publishing establishment and raising a stiff middle finger at the country’s ailing Tory rulers. His underground magazine Rebel Inc spewed out a disorientating cocktail of class A drugs, football hooliganism, club culture, uninhibited sex, expletive-peppered working class vernacular and radical politics.

Instead of a written poem, here’s a fascinating recent podcast from the Scottish Poetry Library, which includes an interview with Kevin.

1. Introducing the February 2011 Readers – Miriam Gamble

Miriam Gamble is from Belfast, but recently moved to Glasgow; she works as a freelance writer and reviewer. She won an Eric Gregory award in 2007 and the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary award in 2010. Her first collection, The Squirrels Are Dead, is published by Bloodaxe.

From the Pole

List, woman: you may cling,
fattening your husband into false contentment.
I mean to have him nonetheless, an ice-
spangled specimen. I will make him bloat and leathern;
yes, woman, I will tarnish him beyond your wildest dreams.
He will have no language for me
when he returns, if he returns, to you.

You may anguish to him of desire, but,
woman, I tell you, you know nothing of such things.
I inhabit him bodily; I reach out
and I infect him like a virus. I am moribund
and tumorous, crabbing my weight
on his intellect and at the same time I do not exist.
I am sorceress and siren, you cannot take me.

Like yours, my love for him is of the body.
I nibble, and I keep bits; I have sent
many a chilled digit to my deepest stores
for summoning in times of need. The flesh
is wary of me: its pink crevices
go sapphire at my touch, it evaporates away,
and their tread fades lightly from my settlementless spine.

They leave stool, silence, a scattering of ashes.
They have barely scratched the surface, will be back
with their dog-sleighs, their inarticulate grief.
You, lady, may clutch him to you,
sue for him with all the springs in Scotland
and still you will not have my measure.
His love for me is different, difficult, too much.

November 14th – Norman MacCaig 100

On Sunday 14th November, we’re having an evening to celebrate the poetry and legacy of Norman MacCaig on the centenary of his birth, which will feature MacCaig poems, new poetry (e.g. Roddy Lumsden, Andrew Philip, Rob A. Mackenzie, Claire Askew, Colin Will, Jane McKie, Kevin Williamson and others) inspired by MacCaig’s work, original music based on MacCaig poems by Colin Donati and friends, and several other surprises.

35 Guthrie St (off Chambers St)

Sunday 14th November, 7.45-9.45pm
Entry £4, concessions £3

Not to be missed!

3. Introducing the October 2010 Readers – James Sheard

Jim Sheard was born in Cyprus in 1962 and spent his childhood abroad, mainly in Singapore and Germany. As an adult, he spent time working in Hamburg and Helsinki. His collection ‘Scattering Eva’ (Cape, 2005) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2005 and the Glenn Dimplex New Writers’ Award 2006 in the poetry category. His new collection – Dammtor – is out now (Cape, 2010), and is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Autumn.


It’s May,
you thought,
and after rain.
White hawthorn
had taken the tracksides,
and no matter where we dig,
you thought,
we find a tilted land
on a tipped earth.

It’s soft,
you thought,
the long grey scar
of vanished rails.
Something in your pack
sounded like hoofbeats.
Poor luggage lay piled
on the gravel. You thought

of how Dammtor
was a station for midnights,
hitched up on stone legs,
hollow with sunken light,
with the swallowed plosives
of church-space. You thought

of places to be broke in,
too late to go home from.
Places to watch
a welder in the high girders.
His flaring iris hissing shut.
Yours stuck open.