‘Queer Information’ – call for submissions for Modern Edinburgh Film School’s first Poetry Anthology

Here’s an open writing call for a project I’m involved in. It’s headed up by the ever-mercurial artist Alex Hetherington.

http://alexhetherington.tumblr.com/post/98461588739/queer-information

The call is for an anthology to be published by Modern Edinburgh Film School at the end of this year. As Alex says in the blurb ‘inclusion makes no inference of sexuality’, although I’m definitely interested in the part about ‘poetry in gay discotheques’ tbh…

Would be great to get a wide range of submissions – deadline is 11 November.

Am excited to be working on this as it furthers my recent collaborative-creative interests. Particularly pleasing to be being presented in the corner of my creative spread that’s grounded in visual arts practice. It’s been an element of my work for some time, but I haven’t taken my practice fully into visual art’s home territories, so to be engaging closely with visual artists and their discourse is an important developmental act for me. I guess the closest to it in my previous work was my collaboration with Zoe Fothergill last year (and she’s also worked with Modern Edinburgh Film School) but there’s a real movement towards looking at how texts can behave when given space in visual art at the moment, and I’m excited to explore what that means from whatever perspective my range of previous creativity has given me.

More on this project will pop up here as it develops!

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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.

Inspiration from Allen Ginsberg: Sutras

Hello one and all, well, at least one.

I’m writing at the moment, working on a new poem called Birthday Sutra for a reading on the eve of my 35th birthday (which seems a good time to sum) at the Sutton Gallery in Edinburgh. The event is listed here, and starts at 7pm on 21st May, 2014.

Here’s the first para of current Wikipedia article on Sutra, to give an idea of what my poem form might be:
‘A sutra (Sanskritसूत्रPālisuttaArdhamagadhisūya) is an aphorism or a collection of aphorisms in the form of a manual or, more broadly, a text in Hinduismor Buddhism. Literally it means a thread or line that holds things together and is derived from the verbal root siv-, meaning to sew’

The inspiration for my poem is loosely Allen Ginsberg and his oracular ‘sutra’ poems.  Here’s his Wichita Vortex Sutra text, and also a composition version of it with Philip Glass at the piano. May it fire up my imagination to similarly visionary heights!

http://mythofamerica.tumblr.com/post/9068001226/wichita-vortex-sutra

Hidden Door Festival film and print contributions from Iain Morrison

SJ Fowler’s Camarade night has been and gone from Edinburgh’s Hidden Door Fest (which punches on until this Saturday 5 April, ’14). But there are videos, mes braves. Here’s the one of mine and Colin Herd’s collaboration Colinthian Hidden Dooric Iainic.  We were taking inspiration from planning documents for the street where the festival is being held, and trying a bit of musical experiment along the way. Watching the documentation, I’ve enjoyed thinking about how what Colin and I were doing related to my previous metrical music and poetry efforts for Syndicate last year, with Lila Matsumoto and Atzi Muramatsu.

And also, Roween Suess has published the 4 comissioned poems (including one from me) for her Hidden Door exhibition here. Double whammy of Morrison poetry. Double whammies all round really, what with all the paired poets reading at SJ’s night, and on his poets and artists walking tour in the afternoon. I’d strongly encourage you to look at the other uploads from his youtube channel if you want to get an effective sampler of many of the most exciting poet voices in Edinburgh(+) at the moment.

Iain Morrison poem for Roween Suess Scopien Tele Telos

Roween’s drawing and my poem for Scopien Tele Telos, her sculpture which inspired it.

 

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).

Drafting on the move, Scotrail-style

I like writing on trains. Nice to be back with a pen in hand for redrafts too. This is me back in June working on a poem about the Forth estuary and industry on a train from Fife to Edinburgh, appropriately enough.

Iain Morrison writing on the train

I read a version of this poem, Tied, at David Faithfull’s recent Earth, Wind & Fission exhibition in Haddington at the Peter Potter Gallery recently. Also reading was Samantha Walton, and we interleaved our poems on related Forth valley subjects. We’re hoping to get them into print together at some point. TBC.

 

Bees, Basho, Blossom, Brogdale.

As interlude to the Emily Dickinson discussion, a nicely crafted project of artist/poet Alec Finlay’s. Alec asked a variety of poets to translate Basho’s famous haiku about a bee reluctantly leaving a peony flower, and then hung his gathered translations in blossoming trees in Kent. There are some great responses to the mission, and I felt I’d had a whizz-bang masterclass in the possibilities and strategies of translation after I’d read the resulting collection through.

Here’s Luke Allan’s photo of my humble (bumble?) contribution.

Iain Morrison's Basho translation for Alec Finlay

And lastly, Emily Dickinson does still get a look in! Ken Cockburn has fashioned one of his translations in fine tribute to her.

Subject Index Day 4: Putting the brakes on Emily Dickinson

I’m going to write up Day 4 of Subject Index in parts.

This final day wound round the houses a little in my ordering of the poems as, knowing I wasn’t going to be able to read all of the remaining poems, I tried to navigate a suitable closing path for the 4-day process of Subject Index. The first part of the day saw me reading for 5 hours, on my own or with Mirja present filming and listening. This took me from Johnson edition number 751 to 972 – slow-goingly, satisfyingly, slightly despairing of not having made it further than the year 1864 of Dickinson’s life.

I stopped for a quick breather and a sandwich across the road at my flat and came back for an evening session which 10 visitors turned up to at various times (I love you energy-giving audients!), and I attempted to execute a reading of the last dated poems in Johnson’s edition. I picked up at poem 1509, having leapt forward sixteen years of Emily’s life to 1881. This was frustrating, as I could sense a big change in the form of what I was reading, and I’d hoped to chart the changes incrementally all the way through her writing life. It was not to be, however, and not just because of the chunk I skipped over in the book, but also because at this end of her writing career, the poems simply aren’t coming as thick and fast, so you don’t get the same illusion of poems appearing at the rate of living. You can’t settle into them either, they’re mostly very short, and because I was mapping them too, I was up and down every thirty seconds to record a number on the board. I read in this way from 1509 through to number 1648, dated 1886, the year of her death.

Then! I realised I still had another half an hour left. I’d misjudged the timings because there were so many short poems in this section. I was frankly unsure what to do with my last half an hour in Emily’s clothes. Well, like in some of her celebrated poetry, the consciousness continued past death and I tentatively read on through 1649, 1650 and 1651 in the ‘undated poems’ section. This was enough to convince me, given what felt like a sudden thickening intensity of the poems’ thought-weave, to go back to where I had left off, at 973, where I remembered that same satisfying feeling, and to read from there onwards until closing time came at Argyle House.

I hoped that it would be enjoyable for those still listening to hear some longer, more wrung poems at the end of the vigil. A relief for me too to be in the middle of her writing life again, strategic decisions past and the course set in that last half hour.  I got as far as poem 1017.

In the next posts I’ll talk a bit more about the poems I read on the last day and what I found. For now, here’s an image of the map I made in its finished (for now) state. I think it looks pleasingly geographical! I had a conversation with Stevie from ForestCentre+ in the pub after about how the map might be given a digital afterlife, allowing people to click through to poems from their position on the map, so I’ll keep you posted if I pull that off at any point.

Emily Dickinson world map of her poems

Scree 6

Am very pleased to be among the poets featured in the latest issue of Lila Matsumoto’s Scree Magazine. Inspired by 60’s small press magazines like Hamilton Finlay’s Poor Old Tired Horse, Lila retypes all of the included poems on an actual old-school typewriter, which is a lovely thing to imagine happening to one of your poems.

There are some great things in this issue, including work by Calum Rodger and Gerry Loose.

Details of how to get hold of one are on this link. The theme of the issue is…SPACE!