Hey everyone On Wednesday night it was my privilege to attend a celebration. Now anyone who knows me will know I never miss the chance to enjoy a good social soiree, especially when it involves a gathering of our poetry community and such was the case in the Tron theatre as Glasgow welcomed Jim Carruth as our new poet laureate.
Jim Carruth takes this post at a very interesting and challenging time for our city, with the Commonwealth Games starting on Wednesday and the independence referendum coming up in mid September, this is an exciting time for both Glasgow and Scotland and no doubt poets will have plenty to say on both events I know I certainly will. Well poets are nothing if not a reasoned voice and mirror in which to reflect our views of city, country and self to the wider community.
As our new poet laureate Jim succeeds Liz Lochhead and the city’s first poet in residence the late Edwin Morgan both of whom eventually left the post to become Scotland’s national makar. Therefore this achievement should not be underestimated and it was certainly celebrated in style as the great, the good and the rebellious amongst our number joined with Jim to enjoy an evening of top quality poetry at which I was proud not only to attend but perform.
Yes that’s right I performed on a glorious night for Scottish poetry as did a number of other poets as we represented spoken word events and writers groups throughout the city. I was representing Words and Music at Sammy Dow’s the event I am so proud to host on the first monday of each month. Also in attendance were Robin Cairns of Last Monday at Rio, Tawona Sithole of Seeds of Thought, Steven Watt who was representing Rally and Broad on behalf of Jenny Lindsay and Rachel McCrum, Gerry Cambridge, from Dark Horse Publications, Magi Gibson, Linda Jackson, Maggie Rabatski, and many others far too numerous to list.
After the official welcome there was a set from Jim’s immediate predecessor now our national makar Liz Lochhead, before Jim read a few of his poems and this short selection of his work demonstrated exactly why he has been chosen to fill this post. His Glasgow in particular striking just the right note on a night which celebrated all that is good about both Glasgow and Poetry.
After showcasing his work Jim talked about his hopes to grow and develop the Glasgow Poetry scene and I believe he is just the man to do it. You see when it comes to growing and developing poetry no poet in the west of Scotland has been a greater pioneer than Jim Carruth. It was Jim who first came up with the idea for a Glasgow Poetry Week which has now become Glasgoes poetic festival and runs for double the amount of time than was originally planned.
It was also Jim who founded the mirrorball poetry group hosted at the Glasgow School of Art hosting poets from all over the British Isles and beyond to inspire poets to higher and greater standards of poetic excellence. In doing this however, Jim Carruth did not forget that promising poets sometimes need a leg up to reach their potential. It was with this in mind, he founded the Clydebuilt Poetry Mentoring Scheme in which four poets each year are selected to take part in the scheme and given the services of a full time poetic mentor who will work them as they develop the skills to take them to the publication of their first collection. So you could say that Jim Carruth has earned this job and I certainly make no apologies for doing exactly that.
During his speech Jim made the point that he hoped to see not just a diverse poetry scene but an inclusive one where everyone will have the chance to get their voices heard. So with this very much in mind he handed over the duties to former chairman of the Federation Of Writers Scotland Marc Sherland to introduce performance section of the evening.
In this section of the evening poets who host or organise events were given the chance to perform a poem as part of the celebration. Marc being Master of Ceremonies for this part of the event kicked off the event with a Sonnet in honour of the new laureate. Next up was the genial host of Last Monday at Rio Robin Cairns who read his poem 23 First Lines. This is a clever and witty poem which is always well received and this was no exception.
Now if there is one position I would never normally want to take, it is following Robin but on this occasion it my was duty to so. The poem I selected to read was My Glasgow as I thought it was the most appropriate choice I could make and it seemed to be well received mainly I think due to its honestly as though was a love poem for my city My Glasgow was not viewed through rose coloured glasses
It was Linda Jackson who followed me to the stage and gave an excellent performer which showcased both her talents as a poet and a musician. I do love it when people can multi-task though I am slightly envious when they can do it as well as Linda.
After Linda my memories of the running order got a little bit fuzzy but I enjoyed each and every performance on what was a great night of spoken word. It was particularly refreshing to hear voices I hadn’t heard before such as Sam Tongue and those i hadn’t heard in a while such as Gerry Cambridge, Magi Gibson, and Tawona Sithole, However I must admit to loving Dunoon Girl which was the poetic contribution of the recently engaged and slightly loved up Stephen Watt. I wish him and finance Keri a lifetime of love and happiness. You have done Ms Pearson, this is not a falling star you have caught, this is a star on the rise and his poetry just keeps on improving. A future poet laureate for our city who knows?
This celebration however, was all about welcoming Jim to the post and after the performance came to an end, there was shall we say plenty of opportunity to mix and mingle and I enjoyed chats with John McGlade, Linda Jackson, Magi Gibson, AC Clarke, Colin Poole, Maggie Rabatski who presented me with a lovely Bu Choir Gaelic Yes Badge for independence referendum campaign, Marc Sherland and Etta Dunn, as well of course as finding time to congratulate the man himself on this well deserved recognition.
So there you have it a snapshot I hope of a night when Glasgow celebrated culture and poetry in particular by creating our city’s 3rd poet laureate and the city has made a wise choice in giving the job to Jim Carruth. This is a man with a poetic vision for Glasgow a vision will showcase all that is best about Glasgow poetry and do so by leading with a strong local voice. After all he a track record when it comes to helping to empower others and now poets in this city will reap the benefits of having a Clydebuilt wordsmith who looked In the mirrorball and found a way with words to map glasgow’s poetry landscape.
Love And Best Wishes