Last night, the award ceremony and readings for the Scottish National Galleries creative writing competition went really well. It was professional without being stressful, and the speeches from the organisers and the main sponsor – the Scottish Qualifications Authority (good on those people for their generous support of initiatives like this!) were warm, short and well done.
The commended writers and the second and first placed writers all read their piece in turn while the artwork that had inspired each one was displayed on a giant screen. The writers in the ‘unpublished’ category read first. I’ve got to say that I was astonished that some of those people were unpublished! They won’t be in that situation for long if they submit their stuff. Good to hear poems from Anna Dickie and the winner, Andrew (not ‘AB’) Jackson. Then it was the turn of the ‘published’ category. Some good stuff here too, of course, from the likes of Alan Gay and the winner, Ian McDonough, whose poem was well worth the first place. My reading was fine, and the prize was great – a illustrated book from the Gallery of Modern Art, a book of Scottish poems, a beautiful anthology featuring paintings and poems from two previous years of the competition, and a selection of tickets-for-two to various art exhibitions.
I talked to Elizabeth Gold (one of the stars of last Sunday's Great Grog readings) and a few other folk at the reception. Then I rushed up the road to hear the tail-end of Robert Crawford’s reading and discussion, which was very good. That review which suggested his new poems lacked “personal feeling”? Don’t want to go on about this, but what a load of nonsense! As early as page 4 in Full Volume, you get:
The Change of Life
Sometimes full volume is a breathy whisper.
‘There’s something I need to say.’ You tilt your ear
Towards love’s ensuing, lifelong pent-up silence
Crackling with all you want, but fear to hear.
That’s just superb!