Tag Archives: Scotland

Brazil Residency – conclusions

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I’ve been back from Brazil almost a week and have been reflecting on my experiences there. Time for a wrap-up post!

 

I (rather reluctantly) left Boiçucanga about ten days before I went home – this was because the residency actually officially started a week before I came (with short notice I had to come later!). So I took the bus to Sao Paulo and hung out with the artists I’d met in the beautiful spot by the sea in their city – there I saw the bustling streets, high-rises, graffiti, buses and underground, restaurants, bars, art galleries (MASP was a highlight), and their homes.  The video of translations and original versions of my work was broadcast at a gallery opening, which was, quite frankly, mindblowing. People were so incredibly generous to me, and I felt that I didn’t have enough time to give everyone their due. Huge thanks in particular to Lourdina, the residency founder, for her kindness, and to Bea, for putting me up for so long.

 

While I’d had warnings that Sao Paulo was dirty and stressful with little to attract tourists, my experience was so personalised that I couldn’t help but see the sunny side of things. I managed to do less work than I’d have liked, since my laptop succumbed to the blue screen of death for reasons unknown early into the Sao Paulo stint. But I took a lot of photographs, some of which I hope to share on Twitter and other places.

 

I’m home now, and as I thought, have a lot to think about regarding my time. I started work on a poetry collection while there – I’ve had a few poems published over the years, but have never really felt like I had a whole collection in me, until now. It’s exciting and challenging to approach it. They are poems about Brazil, about Boiçucanga and my time there. There are possibilities of working with a translator and getting in touch with Brazilian publishers about the finished work, and ideally I would like to return to the country for further research. I’m working too on a project to build a connection between Scotland and Brazil for visiting and local artists and writers, though it’s at a very tender stage, with much research still to be done on the practical points. I hope it will bring good things for many people.

 

So, at the end of all this, I think back to the point where it started – where I realised I could actually make it. Massive thanks to Kaaysa for hosting me, and biggest of all to The Saltire Society and the Society of Authors for providing the funding – at great speed, as was needed – to make it happen. Thank you for everything. The effects are ongoing, and I will feel them in my work, possibly forever.

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The Unsung Letter No. 9

Something a little different from the formula so far – the staff of the excellent Edinburgh bookshop Golden Hare Books give their recommendations in this week’s tinyletter!

 

A taste:

 

Anything I can say about these poems feels inadequate. They brim quietly with the joy of life, reminding us that “the business of our days” is to “hold strong, hold strong and hold to praise” (‘Enough deathbed talk:’). Yet at the same time they are clear-sighted, never falling into pathos or cliché.

 

 

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If you’re in Edinburgh, go and check Golden Hare out. They’re a wonderful bookshop tucked down in Stockbridge.

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#ScotLitFest and Brexit

One very good thing, and one depressing thing!

One week ago, the first online literary festival of Scottish writing happened – right in the wake of Britain voting to leave the EU (as you may know, while Scotland and Northern Ireland voted strongly to remain within it). #ScotLitFest took place across Twitter and livestreams and Youtube, and was fantastic, a shining point in moment where the future yawned open ahead of us. You can catch up with some of the discussions, readings and interviews of #ScotLitFest by checking out their Youtube page. And there you’ll see a discussion between Kirsty Logan and myself, as chaired by Sasha de Buyl-Pisco. It’s about an hour long, and we talk about all sorts of things, from short stories, to novels, to bad art and notions of reality.

 

Make yourself a tea – perhaps this is even a two-tea event.

 

On the topic of Brexit, 3AM Magazine (who have published my work before) have been gathering the single-sentence reactions of writers, publishers and other literary types on this article. I’ve contributed my instant impression, though others have had more constructive or analytical things to say. On Wednesday I took myself and my opinions outside, and attended a pro-EU rally outside Hollyrood, the Scottish Parliament.

 

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There were some good speakers (and some harder to hear) but Patrick Harvie, leader of the Scottish Green Party, said it best – humans are a migratory species, and that is a good thing, he said. He wanted us to celebrate the inherent value of all people. No ‘good’ migrants for him. I have to hope that voices like his win over. Brexit has caused a lot of division, and have led already to a bubbling up of (of course always present) racism and xenophobia. Where now for us? Well, for Scotland, as for Northern Ireland, the future seems particularly uncertain, but with a way forward for Scotland at least that I am putting my hopes on: There is talk of a second independence referendum for Scotland, and a few previous ‘no’ voters I’ve spoken to have said with Britain wanting to leave the EU, they would now vote ‘yes’ for an independent Scotland within the EU – an community which after all protects so many rights as well as providing funding for infrastructure and institutions alike. But this is all ahead, all possible, or impossible. The future, as I said, has opened up its jaws. What happens now depends on the voices of the people and the actions of those in charge.

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Visual notes

clocks in the park

 

 

Things are brewing here, but nothing I want to lay out yet. If we are friends on Twitter or Facebook, or in real life you probably know the plans. But it’s early summer, and the process of fermentation is a slow one that cannot be rushed.

 

 

gloaming

 

 

Summer barbecue smoke drifting across The Meadows. Little day trips when the weather holds. And very soon, at the end of the week, a trip back to America for a family wedding. It’s been four years since D and I left. All these things to be done, and quietly, this great exciting thing that will follow, at the thick end of the season.

 

Arbroath Abbey Graveyard

 

 

Forgive me for taking up this space with dreaminess and vague words. But I hope these images will be enough to charm a little.

 

the looming abbey

 

 

For now, this waiting, exploring, hoping with purpose and work that’s too young to share. See you again with photos and snippets of America, sometime in the next few weeks.

 

the patience of the sea - wish I had it

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three views of an evening

 

sunset, woodlands road

sunset, woodlands road

 

 

 

the River Kelvin

the River Kelvin

 

 

 

Facing south on the bridge over the Kelvin

Facing south on the bridge over the Kelvin

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three views of a morning

Kelvingrove park, towards the spire of Glasgow University

Kelvingrove park, towards the spire of Glasgow University

 

 

City of Ghosts

City of Ghosts

 

 

 

Lowland fields

Lowland fields from the Edinburgh bound train

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blue and gold the gloaming

the lane

 

 

working, reading, waiting for elements to come together, as patiently as possible – I have little news to share. So for now, just the rare snow here in the city of Glasgow.

 

Park Circus

 

 

Kelvingrove Park

 

 

a tenement

 

 

over in the distance more lights glow

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