16th February 2017
Selkirk-based poet Jane Pearn gave an illuminating and entertaining talk about her work and key influences at the February meeting. She provided an insight into the poet’s craft and underlined the discipline’s many forms, from a Shakespeare sonnet to Gerard Manley Hopkins to a poem written for her family. She emphasised the need for poets to be precise with language, edit judiciously and be mindful of grammar and punctuation. Jane also called on publishers to give poems space to ‘breathe’ on the printed page.
For her workshop session, a large range of picture postcards were laid on a desk. She asked those present to choose one that caught the eye and use the image to spark a word, idea or phrase that might lead to a poem. Working in groups of six or so, there followed an exercise in poetic consequences, with participants, in turn, looking at each postcard and contributing a line or two. Several of these ‘poems by committee’ were read out, with pleasing and surprising results.
Many thanks to Jane for shedding light on the poetry process and to members and visitors who supported the event.
Written by Campbell Hutcheson 2017
19th January 2017
The New Year weather did nothing to dampen the fantastic turn out for the first meeting of 2017. Members soaked up the advice, views and opinions of two editors from The Eildon Tree. An enthusiastic audience nearly prevented the talk from moving past the starting gate with innumerable questions on what constitutes an unacceptable word or phrase. Purposely, this piece is written without the use of Anglo Saxon English, or Scottish curses, even if one could help in the content’s better flow.
Once this hurdle had been cleared, ‘politics’ reared its head. And that’s another no, no. The publication is council financed and council produced and printed, so no political bias is acceptable. The two editors, representing their whole editorial team, stated that they constantly walk the line of good quality writing versus censorship and advised that following the pre-set guidelines and submitting original work were both keys to successful inclusion. Admittedly, certain editions received more submissions than others, which resulted in rejections, but writers were not to be dissuaded from sending in work in the first place. The production of an online version of The Eildon Tree is being explored as a vehicle to promote even more submissions that don’t necessarily reach the physical printed page.
Samples of poetry were reviewed for comment as to the audience’s perception of whether or not it achieved the required standard. Suffice to say the vote was not 100% either way with all penmanship being subjective to a certain degree. A piece of prose, quite likely to make the grade, was read out, again for opinions on originality, subject matter and general interest. The next edition could prove that work’s merit.
The Eildon Tree is thought to be the last fully financed creative publication in the UK, in terms of both production and being free at point of sale. But the threat of budget restraints and cut backs is never far away and could jeopardise its status in the not too distant future. Advertising within the publication is not seen as an option but possibly a cover charge may prove its saviour.
Thanks to Carol and Iona for taking the time and effort in enlightening the forum as we continue on our writing journeys, but then they understand anyway with already being members.