Friday, 20 July 2007

The Lowland Scots Prayer [also known as The Lowland Scot's Prayer]

RE: The Scotsman's Prayer: I laughed out loud! Lovely. I pushed and played with it, drifting it into Lowland Scots (Scots is Lowland, but you understand the nature of dilution of language requires assertion of place) then realised i ought just to do my own, Lowland Scots approach. So here you are, all these places are in Dumfries and Galloway, where I was born. This is for my mother.

The Lowland Scots Prayer [also known as The Lowland Scot's Prayer]

Wur Faither, whae airt Innermessan,
Hallae be thon Name.
Thon Kippford come.
Yer Wigtown done,
in Elrig as it is Innermessan.
Gie us this day wur daily Bladnoch.
And forgae us wur Palnackie’s,
As we forgae them what Palnackie agin us.
And lead us no intae Tongland;
But deliver us frae Ecclefechan.
Fur yers is the Kirtle, The Powfoot an the Irongray,
fur Annan an Annan,

Just for reference, Ian Dury's source, The Lord's Prayer:

Our Father, which art in Heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
in earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.

Thursday, 19 July 2007



For those of you braving Beowulf but not quite sure of the arrangements (pointing no elbows at Al) they are as follows - Wednesday 22nd August, 8pm, The Hub.

If anyone fancies more Anglo-Saxon chat before this point, let me know and I'll see what I can do...

A Scotsman's Prayer?

So, you skelfers who were there way back in February when I first rocked up at the SPL might remember the challenge Al suggested for us all? If not, it was to re-write Ian Dury's 'Busman's Prayer' using the places of Scotland.

As we've never revisited it as a group but now have this wonderful space into which things can be thrown for the catching or the falling I offer you my attempt. Now, I rather lost what flow I had after the first few lines so any collaboration/amendation shall be happily accepted. Thanks to the wonders of Wiki I'm able to kick off with the original, complete with footnoted alternatives (who says it's not a serious academic resource!?) You'll also have to forgive my mongrel Scots...

The Busman's Prayer

Our Farnham,[1] who art in Hendon
Harrow be Thy name.
Thy Kingston come; thy Wimbledon,
In Erith as it is in Hendon.
Give us this day our daily Brent [2]
And forgive us our Westminster[3]
As we forgive those who Westminster against us.[4]
And lead us not into Thames Ditton[5]
But deliver us from Yeovil.[6]
For Thine is the Kingston, the Purley and the Crawley,[7]
For Esher and Esher.[8]
Crouch End.

^ 1. Our Father
^ 2. Give us this day our Berkhampstead / our Leatherhead
^ 3. our Hammersmith
^ 4. Forgive us our bypasses,As we forgive those who bypass against us
^ 5. And lead us not into Temple Station
^ 6. But deliver us from Ewell
^ 7. For Thine is the Kingston, the Powys and the Goring
^ 8. for Iver and Iver

A Scotsman's Prayer

Oor Faither, Wishaw in New Haven
Alloa be yer name
Yer Kinghorn come; Yer will be Rum
In Perth as it is in Leven.
Gie us th' day oor daily Breich
And forgive us oor Faslanes
as we forgive those who Faslane against us.
And lead us no into tenaments
But deliver us from Elgin
For thine is the Kinussie, the Portree and the Orkney.
For ever and ever.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Charming Billy

In our SPL discussion of Billy Collin's The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems, J Johnstone, our group facilitator (doesn't that sound dry and unpoetic! - maybe we should call her "our muse") - presented us with a poetic response to the book by a critic from The New York Times. I think it is excellent - so am including it here:

Charming Billy
Review by David Orr

I wonder how you are going to feel
when you found out
that I wrote this instead of you

is how the first poem begins
in the new book by Billy Collins
called "The Trouble with Poetry"

It is a typical Collins beginning -
a good natured wave
across the echoing gulf that stretches

between writer and reader
as it to suggest
the poem itself exists

in that uncertain, cloud-strewn gap,
and we, as readers,
are very nearly poets ourselves,

even if we are unlikely
to receive recognition as such
in the form or a generous grant

from the Guggenheim Foundation,
which is not to say
we would turn one down, mind you.

Anyway: it is a tribute
to the former Poet Laureate
that he is able to make us believe,

despite our anxious response to poetry,
that we are participating
in each Billy Collins poem,

and that the humorous touches-
like calling a book of poetry
"The Trouble With Poetry"-

are a kind of knowing salute,
one writer to another.
It is a technical achievement

all too easy to underestimate,
and it involves a special sensitivity
to the nature of reading, of hearing,

which is perhaps the reason
so many Billy Collins poems
are about the process of poetry,

as when, in his poem "Workshop",
he makes the poem itself
a history of its own unfolding,

a strategy that appears again here
in slightly altered form
as the opening to "The Introduction":

I don't think this next poem
needs any introduction -
it's best to let the work speak for itself,

a suave parody
of the nervous preambles
one hears at so many poetry readings,

and exactly the kind of beginning
that allows us to chuckle gently
as a convention is tweaked,

almost as we chuckle gently
in anticipation when we realise
that the book review we've been reading

is about to turn the corner,
and begin placing a writer's shortcomings
alongside his virtues,

by observing, for instance,
that Billy Collins too often relies
on the same blandly ironic tone

and the same conversational free verse,
loosely organized in tercets
or the occasional quatrain
when an extra line jogs onto the page,

or that his poems often begin to well
and then spiral down
into unsurprising images

like exhausted birds
unable to stand for anything
beyond the simple fact of exhaustion,

or that, most important,
he is often humorous
without actually being funny,

a difference that depends largely
on a writer's willingness
to let his violent, comic sensibility

turn its knives on the reader,
on the poem,
and on poetry itself,

which may seem like an odd complaint,
given Collin's reputation
for teasing our stuffy poetic traditions.

But the teasing this writer does
is harmless, really, and contrary
to what some critics have suggested,

the problem with his work
is not that it is disrespectful,
but that it is not disrespectful enough;

it never cracks wise
to the teacher's face
but meekly returns to its desk,

lending itself with disappointing ease
to the stale imagery
of teachers, desks and wisecracking.

In the end, what we need
from a poet with Collin's talent
is not a good-natured wave

from writer to reader,
or a literary joke, or a mild chuckle;
what we need is to be drawn

high into the poem's cloud-filled air
and allowed to fall
on rocks real enough to hurt.

Shared Inquiry

Fifikin, you may not know that the SPL plan to trial run a new approach to poetry - a method called Shared Inquiry. The idea is that a group focuses in on one poem, and that discussion is "facilitated" by a leader, who poses questions about the poem for readers to consider, and the readers in turn pose questions to each other. There are two trials at the SPL in August (1st and 15th)- and the two poems below are the ones we have been tasked to absorb. You may not be able to attend - but thought I would keep you in the loop and see if you have any questions you would like posed via skelf?

Lilias directed us to shared Q&A, shared inquiry style, which I have included below as an example too....

One Afternoon
Joanie V Mackowski

A woman stepped outside, crumbled
into a loose particulate, and, as the breeze
blew up from the east, she scattered: her handful
of heart, volcanic ash, spiraled the highway,
and five of her teeth slipped between
her neighbor's breasts; her neighbor
unbuttoned her blouse to scratch
at her suddenly red and luminous skin.
Days passed. Each day the sun distractedly
drifted from chair to chair; each night the stars,
old scatterbrains, they commiserated.
It didn't rain. Strange, the granualar woman
thought to herself: although I encompass
so much, I accomplish so little.
Her car sparkled with her hair and bones;
her garden thrived. She tried to think:
why did this happen? what had I eaten?
why was I bothered?-those old hours,
spotted and exotic lizards, darted
the gravel, flicking through their colors
of skin as one flicks channels on tv.
She couldn't catch a one. Then, as a flock
of sparrows converging for the skull
of an oak, all her twittering dust,
her brain, bone, and the dangerous shreds
of her fingers clawed for the sky;
what an interesting cloud someone said.

Q: It seems that poets are particularly prone to states of inspired disarray like the one you described here. Do you find that to be true of yourself - and can you explain what this character says, if anything, about being a poet or making a poem?

Q: How can a poem that's - to simply things - about "falling apart" be so buoyant?

Q: The dramatic chance that takes place in "One Afternoon" clearly evokes Ovid's Metamorphoses, though with a decidely contemporary twist. Ovie's characters were transformed by the whims of the gods. Who, or what, is the transformative power in this poem?

Afternoon Skelf

Well, I thought we needed something to start us off. Lorrainbow is right about Billy Collins, I think...

Introduction to Poetry
by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

bonjour, ├ęchardes

this is a test ... je blogue, tu blogues, elle blogue, nous bloguons, vous bloguez, ils bloguent

Monday, 16 July 2007

The Skelf enters cyberspace...

Hey Skelfies

I hope this can be a place where we can leave gems of Poetry for each other, digest, discuss and disseminate at will.