Tag Archive | William McGonagall

Founders Of The Feast 

On a lovely summer Saturday it was my privilege to, attend a poetry themed barbecue in honour of the world’s worst  poet otherwise known as William Topaz McGonagall. This annual event now in its 12th year is hosted by my good friends Colin and Irene Storrie who every year open their hearts and open their home for a fantastic day of poetry, music, and friendship where having celebrated the best poet in the world at our Burns Suppers in January we can focus on commemorating the self styled worst poet in the world who even on our worst days can make every one us look like a genius. That’s why I dedicate this year’s McGonagall poem to them. I’ve given it the title Founders Of The Feast I hope  you enjoy the read.  

Founders Of The Feast 

​It is one of my favourite my summer traditions 

In the land we call the United Kingdom of Great Britain 

as we gather together the many and not the few 

to have good food and companionship 

and enjoy a very sociable barbecue

It is always great fun, but I cannot deny 

that sometimes it is not just the food which will be grilled or fried 

as the natives of our land have a tendency get very badly burned 

when we see that big yellow object 

which is know by  metrologists and weather forecasters as the sun 

 This is however, not something about which we should complaining

as in Scotland and the United Kingdom Of Great Britain 

the weather has a nasty habit of raining 

If this is the Almighty’s idea of a summer joke 

I do not find it funny as many of out citizens 

could get caught in a downpour and end up getting soaked. 

This I fear would not be very good 

however I hope it would not spoil their day or stop them enjoying their food 

for that would be a very great shame 

especially at the poets barbecue 

which every year since 2006 

has been held to celebrate the honour of my name. 

This barbecue is not held in the Magdalene Green or the fair city of Dundee

Nor even in Edinburgh the city that gave birth to the poetic genius I was born to be 

it takes place in the heart of Glasgow’s East End 

and founded by most uniquely talented collection of friends

it is however to the founders of the feast 

I must now proclaim my gratitude

though I have heard said they prefer good companions

 to a diet of well meant  platitudes 

but alas as the my story has now reached it’s end 

I ask you to raise your glasses 

and toast, Irene , Colin, and the company of  friends.  

© Gayle Smith 2017 


Poets In Residence, Power Packed Performances, And Proof There Are Good Guys In Politics

Hey everyone It finally happened. On Tuesday I delivered my first performance of 2014. The venue was as it always is was and ever and shall be The National Poetry Library for the first of this year’s courtyard readings.

Hosted by the gentle mild mannered Angus Ogilvy this was a cracking session of top quality poetry. Though there were six in attendance only four of us read our work and I was the only poet from or should I say currently based in Glasgow and I live in Baillieston which for those who don’t know is the most eastern part of the east end and is only a five minute bus journey from the Glasgow -North Lanarkshire border.

As there were so few of us, the session was delivered in a round robin style and each poet read one poem and then next poet graced the stage. Angus opened proceedings with a poem on his father’s obsession with annunciation,and sentence structure. It is I think fair to say that his father’s obsession has served him well as this was not only a well crafted poem it was also very well performed.

Next up was Philip Hutton, Philip was a poet I had never heard before but though he was new to my ear he had a voice which was both interesting and enjoyable and particularly liked his poem on the commemoration of World War 1 and why we owe it to those to gave their lives or experienced the horrors of the war which was supposed to end all end all wars.

As it was a rotating stage my set was staggered over five sections. I opened with a poem which tackled the thorny issue of identity and what the consequences could be if compromise can’t reached. Though this poem could easily apply to the current situation in Gaza or indeed any other conflict in recent times, I wrote Yesterday’s Battles primarily to give my view on Sectarianism which I believe is the cancer of Scotland. The last poet to read her work was Anna Maria Concalves Cardozo McGuire who read her poems in both English and Portuguese.

When my turn came round again I followed Yesterday’s Battles with my mandatory independence poem. Well I think it’s safe to say that in every set from now till the referendum there will be at least one on this issue.

On this occasion my choice was one of my most recent efforts Invitation To A Better Land. This was written in response to a letter from a young better together activist who had written a target letter aimed at getting 300,000 women voters no by appealing to our hearts. What the letter did not tell us was that the girl concerned is a very active member of her young Conservative association. So my reply to do her letter challenges many of her cosy fireside notions of Britain and faces her with an altogether different image of Britain that of right wing colonial imperialist views which are supported by far right organisations such as the BNP Britain First and The Loyal Orange Order. It not surprising that I was told to submit this poem to a competition on the topic called the referendum rant. Needless to say I will be entering at least one of my yes poems for this competition and it was great to see this poem getting such positive feedback on its first public airing.

My next poem was on something completely different namely my love for traditional music and the Multi Linguist a poem as a dedication to the very talented young harpist Gwen Marie Yorke. It may have been as short as one Kylie’s mini dresses but this is a poem which always makes an impact.

As I was treated to more top quality poetry from a small but intimate gathering my next effort was a poem lamenting lost youth as it shows the relationship between an auntie and niece in The Last Dance. In this poem the auntie wonders if the niece will take her out clubbing but knows in her heart of hearts that even if she was offered she probably wouldn’t go instead she would think back to her own youth and leave her niece to get on with enjoying herself.

My final poem Secret Girl was written about starting secondary school in the mid 1970’s knowing your trans but being unable to tell anyone and hoping that some girls might spot your difficulty and let you join their company. I was lucky I did find a group of girls a couple of years above me who did let me in to their group and this poem whilst it highlights the challenges I faced in my early secondary school years also shows the importance of the simple things in building genuine friendships.

At the end of a great first reading I went as tradition dictates to Bene’s chippy for my opening day single haggis a tradition I started in 2007 and continue to this day. As I walked along the road tucking in to my well earned meal I met James Dornan MSP for Glasgow Cathcart. In a game where some people say there is no room for good guys James is one of exceptions to the rule. No matter where he bumps in to you be it in Glasgow library or the royal mile he always makes time to chat to you. James Dornan is as I know only too clearly a real man of the people who takes a real interest in what people are doing. As we enjoyed a brief chat James asked what I was up to and I told him I had just finished my first poetry reading of the fringe.

Naturally being of the same political persuasion he asked if I had included any political poems in my set. I replied that I had and that the one I had performed on this occasion was An Invitation To Better Land and that this was my reply to a letter from a young Tory voter who a letter to women voters to tell us why she thought we were better together. I said that this poem had went down well as did the rest of my set.
James said he was pleased my fringe had started well and on this he headed back to parliament and I headed to the Banshee aka headquarters.

On arriving my quiet afternoon was interrupted when on leaving the ladies I met that pocket dynamo and force of nature that is the wonderful Sophia Walker. After enjoying a lovely if all too brief chat I decided to help her do a wee bit of flyering for her one woman show Around The World In Eight Mistakes which I had the privilege of seeing last year. This passed an enjoyable half an hour though I did need to exercise after my haggis and this was the perfect way to do it.

Unfortunately it meant I missed most of Monkey’s poet but Matt told me at the end it was only his review so it didn’t really matter and I could catch his new show any day except Tuesday. After. Matt. I stayed in the Banshee where I enjoyed spending an hour with Kate Fox for the last night of her show Poet In Residence. In an action packed hour of powerful punchy poetry which covered everything from etiquette, to doctor who and the great north run, Not only did Kate perform poems of breathtaking quality at breakneck speed she also had the legendary Phil Jupitus performing a guest slot as Porky The Poet. This showed a different side to a man whose more famed for his comedy than his poetry in an hour which passed faster than Usian Bolt in an Olympic 100 metres final and was a lot more memorable.

After watching Kate conclude her fringe for 2014 I stayed in the Banshee and went to Stand Up Tragedy. This was a show which combined the serious with the more comic as all performers talked about tragedies which had impacted on their own personal lives whether it be Lisa Findlay’s misadventures in Vietnam after being run over by a taxi, or Mel Jones who had to discreetly had to find a way to do the toilet as there was no Ladies loo at the railway station as she waited for her train. I also really enjoyed the story of Lauren Stone who is someone with a natural storytelling gift and someone I’d like to a lot more of and Tammar Katten whose gave a powerful testimony to the value of comedy in his tribute to Robin Williams who though his character of Mork in the hit TV show Mork and Mindy he said gave him comfort in the fact that he was a newly settled Egyptian-American.
At the end of this brilliant show I had a decision to make, should I stay for one more show or head back to Baillieston? The choice was mine and in the end I decided to stay for one last show. This show, Grave Invaders was like Kate Fox’s also on and starred three poets I have got to know over the years who told of their adventures as they took a round tour of poets graves throughout the British isles starting in London where they visited the graves of those well connected graves of the established so beloved funnily enough by the establishment. Needless to say the tour ended up in Scotland finishing not as you would expect in Allloway at the grave of Robert Burns though they did visit the grave of the bard but at Grayfriars Kirk at the grave of the one and only and thank God there’s one and only William Topaz McGonagall the man who is to poetry what to Anthony Charles Linton Blair or as he as better known Tory B-Liar is to world peace. There is however one key difference between these two men that being people like McGonagall.
in a fast pacey show filled with anecdotes, quality one liners and not to mention the odd poem of very high quality this I have to say was a very wise decision but all good things have to end and this was no exception. It was however with a happy heart and a spring in my step I got my bus back to Baillieston at around 10.30. As I made the journey home I thought about how I best describe the events of a busy day and I think I would say it can best be described which provided poets in residence, power packed performances and proof there are good guys in politics and that to me is a winning combination.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X