‘is 5’: last reading of the year, Sunday 14th December 2014

I’m part of nick-e melville’s line-up of 12 poets reading tomorrow at Main Point Books in Edinburgh’s thrilly West Port area. The West Port Book Festival may have closed its run, but the many bookshops remain open to the good event idea, and this is one of those.

Come and enjoy 5 minutes of me, and of 11 other people for free. 7pm, 77 Bread Street EH3 9AH. Sunday 14 December 2014.


is 5 poster



Auld Enemies: Colin Herd and Iain Morrison –– Friday 11th July 2014, 7pm @ Summerhall, Edinburgh

Just a heads up that in the midst of life we are in the midst of a smashing Scottish poetry tour: Auld Enemies. It’s organised by the magisterial S.J. Fowler from his London eyrie and is now unleashing fun, debate, collaborative writing and merry mayhem around our rebellious lands. A core coterie of poets are whirling round Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Shetland, and Orkney before storming London at the end. They are: Ross Sutherland, Billy Letford, Colin Herd, Nick-e Melville, Ryan van Winkle and S.J. himself. The core is being added to at each destination by poetry players from the local locale. Tonight they took Dundee, tomorrow Glasgow, and I’m joining in with mission Edinburgh on Friday.

Colin Herd and I have worked on a new piece, building on some of the spirit of our Hidden Door collaboration, but cycling around a bit more for content. I’ll say not a jot more but leave you with the teaser trailer and the details (free! unticketed!) on this link here. Hope to see some of you at Summerhall on Friday evening.

Ben Kopel – a sutra!

Love this poem tonight: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/iscariot-rising-sutra The page shows weird on my browser and hides the title: Iscariot Rising Sutra

I guess I went looking for other poems called something or other Sutra in the wake of writing and performing one (Birthday Sutra) at a really beautifully hosted and satisfying reading at The Sutton Gallery in Edinburgh the other night. It was today’s diversionary exercise, seeing whether there was a recognisable ‘sutra form’ coalescing in or deducible from poems so-titled by various authors. I kind of feel that there is. I come back to the wikipedia article sentence on sutras as a religious text, involving a sequence of aphorisms intended for teaching. The ones that I have dipped into, seems to be loose, long (although Ben Kopel’s isn’t) and following a sort of free-wheeling journey of good advice/aspiration/vision ranging through different specific subjects. The context is the moment they’re addressing. A tentative thought, this, I admit.

Anyway, I also, literally just now and this is quite embarrassing, realised that the sutra in ‘Kama Sutra’ is the same meaning of sutra, of course. I didn’t really think of the Kama Sutra as two separate words consciously before now, and I might have been thrown by thinking about it while writing my poem. But of course, the association totally fits, it’s there, and I’m glad for that and whatever mechanics of brains allow these subconscious sleights of meaning to get into the poem before you second-guess yourself and change your mind.

Here’s a wee excerpt from mine, from my Birthday Sutra:


love love love

the elisions of you

the slow boilings of your clouds.

Not not not like

Sochi Sochi Sochi.

More of a creeper than a rhodeddendron

Sochi where Brodsky visited the Cascade Restaurant on new year 1969, ten years before I was born

Osho Osho Osho

A bad Jazz musician with jazzed bad skin

It’s an old school

an old school

sutra sutra sutra

tantric Male power and stalk energy

suture suture suture

self second-guessing always makes me wrong in the

Future Future Future

bewhiles I have time

hoopla hoopla hoopla

for good ideas to come in the bath

youthlike like youth you thlike

Aren’t I an idea now, having an idea? Aren’t we all so

Sufi Sufi Sufi


Reuben Sutton's photograph of Sutton Gallery, Edinburgh reading by Iain Morrison 21/5/14


Hope you enjoyed that excerpt. Now I’m turning my attentions to focus on Berlin, and my Emily Dickinson readings at SOUNDOUT! festival… Heading there on Tuesday. Whee!

Iain Morrison at Hidden Door Festival

I’m involved in the forthcoming Hidden Door Festival in a couple of ways. Am particularly glad about this as it seems like this year, the Edinburgh hand-reared festival has leapt forward in size and content quality. It seems like all of my favourite artists, musicians and poets are involved in one way or another, so I think it’s going to be a real celebration of the broadest representation of a scene I recognise and love.

Firstly I’ve written a poem for Roween Suess in response to the artwork she’s including in a show with some of the other Totes Colo artists. A publication of my it, with responses to the same work from other poets too, will be available in the exhibition space until they run out.

Roween Suess Iain Morrison bee up

That’s Roween peering over my screen in an inspirational fashion.

And secondly, I’m part of this rather wonderful list that London-based poet and performer S J Fowler has put together for an Edinburgh outing of his Camarade project, where he pairs up poets and gets them to write short bursts of new work together.

Ross Sutherland & nick-e melville
Samantha Walton & Jow Lindsay
Daisy Grove Lafarge & Anne Laure Coxam
Kirsten MacGillivray & JL Williams
Tom Jenks & SJ Fowler
Lila Matsumoto & Greg Thomas
Ryan Van Winkle & Sarah Kelly
Colin Herd & Iain Morrison
Graeme Smith & Anthony Autumn

More info here: http://hiddendoorblog.org/2014/02/24/s-j-fowler/

I’ve been having SUCH delirious fun working with poet Colin Herd who I hold in much esteem and affection. Treats for me all round!

And general info on how to get to/into the festival here. Really don’t miss this one if you can, as I think town set for a very special 10 days. Also, I’d recommend walking down East Market Street on your lunch break this week to get the buzz from the hive of activity there (2 bee puns! If you see Roween’s work, that’ll make sense….).

First reading of the year ’10 Red’ Wednesday 5th February 2014

Delighted to have been invited back by that notorious Lazarus, Kevin Cadwallender, to read at his poetry-night-with-a-twist 10 Red on Wednedsay.

It’s a crazy idea for a regular night, involving no doubt huge administrative wranglings and perpetual persuasions to bring together ten different poets to each read from their work for ten minutes apiece.

Last time I read, I loved the resulting mix/clash of registers that ensued from the form. An evening so constrained, it’s the very villanelle of the poetry calendar.

More details here.

Iain Morrison at Caesura this Friday, 8 Nov 2013

Hotly anticipating my return to Graeme Smith’s excellent, and much engorged, Caesura spoken word night. That is, if I’m allowed to hotly anticipate myself (Vanity thy name is Morrison).

Graeme pointed out on the facebook event today that the last time I read with them was at Caesura  #4. Well, they’re up to Caesura edition #18 now and have been busily accruing their reputation as “the voice event of the only real literary avant garde in Edinburgh” (as Martin Belk put it). Basically they’ve upped the ante and I’m going to have to raise my game.

I have worked hard on this, though, so am hoping to pull off some sort of credible reading of my new longish poem ‘Hippocrener’ without getting too soaked from bottles of beer/piss thrown at me by the now alarmingly swollen crowd of regular Caesura aesthetes. It’s good that they’re vocal, I tell myself now, before stepping into the ring. That’s the point, right…?

Here’s a giddy extract from Hippocrener for any keenos wanting to ostentatiously nod along/off at the appropriate moment (encouraged behaviour. I am vain, remember) 🙂

‘Bod bud, soft-porn is an attractive category, promising not to bruise;

show me the rib and show me the rib only.

Unmoved much to care, electrolytic Hippocrener, Diabolus in Musica, hemiola utterer, ghost in the machine,

do I consdescend (to myself) to estimate what percentile of the populace my voice can speak for or, failing, over?

Engagement and interaction vs. truth-shout vis-a-vis personal experience.

Variable isn’t when or who

so much as how it represents a voiceless alveolar lateral fricative or similar sound, velarized.’

Hope to see some of you upstairs at The Artisan Bar. Night starts at 7pm-ish I believe. Entry by donation according to Graeme Smith’s The Goodnight Press website. Many talents on the bill: Sandra Allan, Karen Veitch, James Leveque, Graeme Smith, (me).

Pic from Forest Centre+ reading last week

Just sharing my favourite photo taken by Ana González Chouciño of my reading on 24th Nov. It was a sort of closing event for the Warm Up exhibition at Forest Centre+’s new gallery space, Interview Room 11. I was happy to have the chance to read alongside my installation of the This Is Not The Place collaborative text I made with Leiza McLeod, not least because it let me put the spoken voice back into the work. I read along with the film of Leiza and I stating the text in the same space back in April before it was turned into a gallery. You can’t see it really, but on the little DVD screen there are mini-versions of me and Leiza. I even wore the same cardigan! #continuity

Before the reading, I unfurled the ribbons of text, attached to the pamphlet of the whole text, so that they stretched the length of the gallery. This felt like a release of the pent up energy in their coiled bundles (how they’ve been presented in the exhibition for its duration) and I liked the sort of flare, sort of outburst that this seemed to let them stage. Once I’d done that, I waited silently for the DVD to reach the point in mine and Leiza’s reading where the text located to Edinburgh, reading in my head along with the Bristol section. I liked the element of reading in my head alongside the recording of my voice reading out loud. I want to think about that more. Also, I enjoyed then reading out loud with my own recorded voice and playing with the possibilities of phasing/echoing/falling into step.

Anyway, Ana’s picture. Thanks to those who came.

Iain Morrison performing This Is Not The Place. Thanks to Ana González Chouciño for photo

Loved Stephen Paterson’s wire installation too, by the way. He was manipulating this invisibly from the wings all night so that bundles of hanging electrical cables jerked like puppetless strings and gradually withdrew back into the ceiling.

Looking forward to the next Interview Room 11 exhibition, which I think is by Nick-e Melville.

Iain Morrison residency @ Forest Centre Plus

Basically every part of what’s written below is overexciting me….

In April, I’ve been invited to do a text-based residency at the new Forest Centre Plus space in Edinburgh.

For those who don’t know it, the Forest is a volunteer-run arts collective which used to have its base in an old Methodist Chapel in the centre of Edinburgh. That building was sold by its owners Edinburgh University a year or so ago. The much-loved Forest cafe has more recently found a new home in Tollcross, but space for the previous levels of creative activity was lacking in the new arrangement. Until now, that is!

The Forest have taken over several floors of Argyle House, a modernist 60’s office block opposite, as it happens, my flat. That was one plank of fate lining up to connect me to the new enterprise.

Also Mirja Koponen, Forest committee members and general power-house, saw a performed reading I gave with long-time collaborator Leiza McLeod on the delivery platform at the back of the office building, in 2011. Our reading was of a text Leiza and I produced called This Is Not The Place. We first wrote this in 2008 in Bristol, recording walks we took from each of our homes to a location picked because neither of us had ever been there. In the 2011 performance, we added material describing a walk both of us took from Argyle House to somewhere we’d never been before. So the first walk was a convergence and the second walk, a divergence.

Mirja saw the performance, and it must have stuck in her mind; when she was planning the Forest’s move to the new space, she asked if I’d be interested in doing a performance or something else in there. Apparently I was the only person she knew who’d actually noticed the building beforehand, which I think tells you something about the cleverness of its construction given that it’s 10 stories tall and has 3 wings!

This has come together into a plan, now that the space is up and running. I am looking at doing a few different things in Argyle House over my residency month of April.  I’ll write more about these as they approach but broadly they are:

1) a revisiting of the This Is Not The Place material, possibly making a connection with the inside of the building and the place outside where Leiza and I performed in 2011.

Screen-shot from the facebook page for our 2011 event 'This Is Not The Place'.

Screen-shot from the facebook page for our 2011 event ‘This Is Not The Place’.

Leiza and I reading This Is Not The Place, 2011 at Argyle House

Leiza and I reading This Is Not The Place, 2011 at Argyle House

Above the platform from inside the building

Above the platform from inside the building

2) an attempt to read all of Emily Dickinson’s poems over 4 Mondays. I am having my talented friend, and other Emily, Emily Goodwin adapt a white dress for me to wear during this.


3) some sort of poem writing directly onto the walls of the building inside. Using it like a sketchbook is the idea, working to a final draft.

4) Holding a meeting of PiP, the poetry workshop group to which I belong, in Argyle House at some point during April.

I’m really looking forward to this. Forest Centre Plus is currently a very hot new arrival on the Edinburgh arts scene, and I’m grateful to circumstance and Mirja for opening its doors to me. I’ve looked at it for three years, and now I get to play inside.