My poem, View from Cavehill, 1970, is published in Issue 10 of the excellent Scottish magazine, The Poet’s Republic.
The title of the issue is Poetry as Testimony, so I am delighted that my poem sits in there, with its themes of migration, poverty and witness.
The foundation of the issue in may ways are the voices of indigenous American poets. It is worth spending time reading the biographies of these writers. Their biographies speak of lineage, both generational and poetic. They give an insight into the power of the written and spoken word to frame people’s experiences and resonate very much with writers like me from an Irish-Scottish background. I’m sure it’s the same for others of different heritage.
The launch event for this issue of The Poets’ Republic was on Zoom, enabling poets from all over the world to share their work and listen to others. The event was led by Scottish Poet Lesley Benzie. Lesley’s poetic voice is as strong as any, and her poem John Pilger set the scene powerfully for the indigenous American poets. The poem is one of many she read from her excellent Fessen/Reared collection, published by Seahorse Publications in 2020. Poets like Lesley Benzie, and others in this edition, generate energy that stirs up the puddles.
Alan Riach is Professor of Scottish Literature at Glasgow University. His interesting essay in The National of 14th February 2022 (Culture is no longer the preserve of the wealthy few) discusses the increasing diversity and strength of Scottish poetry. Work by Lesley Benzie is noted by him as an example of this strengthening.
The Poets’ Republic has a desire to bring voices together, with more than bit of an edge. It is home to the Gaelic Poblachd nam Bàrd and affiliated with Drunk Muse Press. In his excellent editorial, Hugh McMillan reflects (with less optimism than Alan Riach) that the hierarchies that dominated theScottish poetry scene in the past still hold sway. ‘This narrowing and exclusivity is at odds with the explosion of interest in and profusion of poetry in Scotland.’
The Poets’ Republic is well worth a close read.