Poetry Map

We all know poems about Scotland but can the shape and nature of Scotland be drawn entirely in poetry? StAnza has set itself the challenge to see if this is the case. Find out more about the project and how to submit your poem by clicking here, or browse the poems using the map. Latest poems are listed below.

Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 6: Stromness

Saturday 19 July 2014, 10:04

Stromness

A sound that rolls
like pebbles off the tongue. Stromness.
The moon here wears its clouds like a moustache
on a bleached skull, a face that’s pinched
in pique at the lone walker and three felines
who have come to bear witness to its lightshow
on flagstones, smooth and new.

The street narrows ahead, forms a horizon
of slanted stone. Van Gogh would have been proud,
here we have a black and orange road winding treacherous,
slippery into an unknown. And suddenly I am
my feet, they are a metronome.
The old sky-relic tugs at my knees
like I am a marionette. There is no room for error
in this place, the scowling sky will not allow for it.
‘Don’t you dare,’ it tells me, ‘Fall out of rhythm.
Respect the silence, child.’
And so I respect the silence. My steps fall
like the peel of stone bells.

Ingrid Leonard

 

Continuing our tour of Scotland in poems, we travel by sea round to Orkney, to Stromness. Ingrid Leonard wrote this poem on the St Magnus Festival Orkney Writers' Course and it was published online as part of a compilation of poets' work.

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 5: Uist

Thursday 17 July 2014, 16:05

Uist

There is nothing here,
in all the wide ocean
to stop the wind
that frays the edge of the land.
On the foredune,
dry from the long sunlight and the sea breeze,
sand slips.
In the slack behind the dunes,
the brown bird lies low
in her nest among the grasses:
even here, sand moves, held in nets of buttercup roots.
When the storm comes,
sand flows like water, stings like hail -
air eating the earth -
small white houses
grip the soil of the machair,
one window gleaming all night long
to light the way home –
though some will not return.
Up on the hillside,
thin sheep graze on rocks,
and there the Lady stands
looking past the ocean
out to the furthest West
from where no one of us returns.

Angus Dunn

 

Continuing our tour of Scotland in poems, this one stops off in Uist, thanks to Angus Dunn. Our Lady of the Isles is on the West side of South Uist, on the western slopes of Ruabhal Hill Coordinates: 57.342731°N 7.360725°W

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 4: Govan

Monday 14 July 2014, 13:53

Honeymoon in Govan

My Granny honeymooned
in a single-end
in Govan.

She recalls this like yesterday,
Blue eyes twinkling,
Wet with remembrance.

A husband she has mourned
longer than lived.

She wore a knee length dress,
Silk fabric, of tiny proportions
that she passed down to me.

She told me they spent all
their money
on a photographer.

They walked to Govan
from Pollokshaws
hand in hand.

She said,
they wur the best two days ai ma life.

We smile,
our eyes, simultaneously drawn
to the picture
of the happy couple,
at the side of her bed.

 

Nicola Burkhill

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 3: St Andrews!

Sunday 13 July 2014, 11:14

After the Reading

She breathes in the hairspray topnotes
of a highland single malt, which needs a glass
not a tooth mug. Her lips sting,
they have opened and closed all day.
Here’s to a taste of being happy
after the gentle pain of closure – the pang
of goodbye to the St Andrews’ teacher
who’d holidayed in her home town,
to the Welsh poet she hopes to meet again,
goodbye to the rather famous,
and to the Iraqi poet with wheat-beer breath
who kissed her on both cheeks.

The sting repeats with the second mugfull
while the Gaelic band plays elsewhere.
The moon’s larger than she’s ever known.
She’s tired of smiling, wants her lips
to burn to silence, her ears to rest
from adjusting to accents, her eyes to start seeing
double. She senses her before she sees her,
glimpsed in the mirror, opposite the bed,
past the flowers – a woman, not a poet –
just a woman drinking alone.
She doesn’t like to judge
but that whisky’s half her age.

Katrina Naomi

St Andrews St Andrews

 

No poetry map of Scotland would be complete without lots of poems about St Andrews, and this first one we're posting is not only about St Andrews but also about StAnza, by the poet Katrina Naomi. It was first published in The London Magazine in 2012, and sharp eyes will notice that it contains the lines which appeared on the StAnza coffee coasters.  

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 2: Harris

Friday 11 July 2014, 09:47

Caolas na Hearadh/Sound of Harris...

over the calm mirror of dawn

islands float on thoughts

warmed by breath

rising from

the east

  

Peter Kerr

 

The location of this poem is near the Gatliff Hostel in Berneray, Harris and the poet Peter Kerr's website is at http://berneraybardachd.wordpress.com/

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 1 - Coupar Angus

Wednesday 9 July 2014, 16:04

Judith Taylor by Helena Fornells Nadal

Starting out at Coupar Angus ... and ending up ...?

We launched our Mapping Scotland in Poetry project at StAnza with a splendid array of poems, of which the final poem was Judith Taylor's wonderful homage to her home town. Our previous post on this topic picked up the baton to continue our own particular poetic tour of Scotland, so it feels only appropriate that we should start with Judith's poem, which we have learned she wrote specially for the project. For which our thanks!  Who knows where we'll end up by the time this project is finalised, but we know exactly where we're starting from.

So here it is. Do let us have your comments on your own memories of Coupar Angus, and even/or a suitable photograph. And keep the other poems coming in! 

Moments in the Great History of Coupar Angus

William Wallace passed this way,
didn't stop. Mary Queen of Scots stopped
but that's not much to sing of
she stopped everywhere. And the Duke of Cumberland…

is an embarrassment.
We were please enough to see him at the time
but now we'd like to think that we were
sympathetic to the Highlanders
before they were defeated and Romantic

so we don't mention him
and there's another story (totally fictitious)
that says we also had a visit from the Bonny Prince.

But our closest brush with history
was in 1917.
There's even a postcard of the aftermath:

the South Lodge at Keithick, on the Perth Road
the keeper and his wife
posed self-consciously on the doorstep
and a passing motorist, roped in to add

- well, who knows what he was supposed to add
but there he is, parked
right in the road
for as long as it took to get the picture

and none of them are looking at its focus.
That black hole in the roof, above the door

punched by a piece of stone the size of a human fist
the biggest fragment of the meteorite
that went to pieces (so we say)
when it realised it might end up in Coupar Angus…

really, though, it scattershotted all Strathmore
from Forfar to Collace.
Our one and only claim to distinction is
this visible piece of damage

and look again at the photograph:
it's faked. The hole's been scratched in on the negative.
It was February. Bitter weather.
1917, when folk had other things to think about

and who would wait around with a holey roof
for the photographer from Valentine's?
It was mended when he got there
so he improvised.

I doubt if anyone minded.
There are lots of disaster postcards:
in the ones of burning buildings you can see
the strokes of the pen that drew the flames in.

Anyway, this was Perthshire. We invented
selling history to the tourists.
We gave the world at least two (probably more)
phoney Stones of Destiny.

Why shouldn't Coupar Angus
have something to show for how close
disaster came?
We could have been a contender:
Scotland's very own Tunguska.

Instead, we're here
going about our business much as usual
only a little bit resentful when we think of how
history passed us by.

 

Judith Taylor
written for A Poetry Tour of Scotland
StAnza Festival, St Andrews
9th March 2014

Categories: News, Poetry Map