Monday, 5 April 2010

More Swiss

OK, so few of us will ever sing like Streisand on 'Glee' but we do our best, we do what we can. Quite a few of the poets-who-blog, for example, have books of poetry out this year. One such book is this one...

Morgan Downie (or Swiss as we more often know him...even though he's Scottish....) is a writer I've been in touch with for a while (one way or another). He drove the Poetry Bus this week but I first came across him (and his complete lack of any capital letters) via Sorlil, quite some time ago now. Just recently another Scottish poet, publisher and blogger, Colin Will, has put out Morgan's first collection via his fast-expanding Calder Wood Press.

I've got a lot of books on the go just now but I have been reading 'stone and sea' off and on since StAnza and the more I read it the more I find poems that I like. It's a very varied collection and I love that about it (why write the same poem twenty times..I mean really...). The first poem that really grabbed me in this book though (because I like being grabbed by poems...) was the one I've reproduced below (with permission). I think this is a really powerful piece of writing and I particularly adore the big finish. Go, Swiss! Go, Morgan! Go, blog-poets!

the stone bible

my first memory of god
in church
whispering in my ear
come away, come away
my first memory of god
was red sandstone
the white calm of the sea
the salt stir
which to a child
was infinite

when they told me
god was a man
i heard laughing
great gusts of laughter
tobacco stained
jungle laughter
laughter of the desert
over camel dung fires
fishing boat laughter
caught in nets
women's laughter
grey beard
a joke

god was never a stranger
i did not come to god
god was always there
the chance meeting
stranger on a corner
loony on a bus
leaving epiphanies
as greeting cards
white flight of gulls
over empty sands
god only told me
one thing
hard finger
in my chest

morgan downie
from 'stone and sea' (Calder Wood Press 2010)
To buy go here and then to the catalogue page.



Dianne said...

never a stranger

Marion McCready said...

It's great being able to read the poems together as a whole. It's my bag-book at the moment so I'm mulling over the poems in all sorts of strange places.

Eryl said...

Wonderful stuff!

Titus said...

Timely reminder, been meaning to get it. Have now purchased, along with Juliet's, and looking forward to them both immensely!

Morgan? Is swiss welsh?

swiss said...

thank you very much rachel. which reminds me i should really get this blog tour together.

i'm glad you like dthat one tho. i have quite a soft spot for it

welsh? ha!

Titus said...

Oops. Guess not then.

Rachel Fox said...

One of my favourite things about blogs is the spontaneity available. I didn't plan to write about this book or organise a date on a tour (I have had slots on one or two tours but I can't say I love the concept particularly). I just thought on Sunday 'I love that poem and I'm going to ask Colin/Swiss if I can put it up...after all it would link nicely after Swiss' Bus trip' (I like links...once a radio DJ/presenter, always so). And they said OK so I did. And hopefully others will love it/find it interesting and maybe some of them will go on to buy/read the book (some right away, some maybe years down the line). I didn't have to check with my editor or haggle over a fee - just PING out it goes into the big, wide world without a chance for the enthusiasm to fade or anything else to creep in. Fantastic.


Totalfeckineejit said...

Love the ending, great poem, great poet.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, the ending is spectacular.

I like the bit about the infinite sea to a child too. When our daughter first saw the sea (as a child who could speak anyway) she said 'look - big bath' (or something like that).


Pure Fiction said...

Wow - brilliant poem. And I love the cover image.

Rachel Fox said...

He's an artist too. Some people...

hope said... that last line. :)

Thanks for reminding me how talented this group of people I hang with has always been....if only I'll sit still for a moment to look.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, I think this poem really has that something special. This is definitely one for the anthologies, for the wider audience.