Saturday, March 14, 2009
Shetlandic Evening, Glasgow
Brilliant evening yesterday in Glasgow’s Mitchell theatre - a Shetlandic Evening organised by the Aye Write! festival and Vital Synz. In the video above, you can listen to Chris Stout and Catriona McKay, whose unique interpretations of traditional Shetlandic tunes were simply mesmerising. It's great in the video, but even better in real time. I'm not even a huge fan of folk music, but these people were really, really good. Afterwards in the Bon Accord Bar, I caught sight of Rihanna in concert (with the sound down) on the bar’s TV and reflected, not for the first time, that far greater talent is found in people like Chris and Catriona than in the identikit pop stars delivered for the MTV screens. Also, that good poetry has worth in itself, no matter how unpopular it is compared with a Danielle Steele romance or a Gordon Ramsey celebrity cookbook, in the same way that a brilliantly-played violin and harp have real worth in themselves, no matter whether they shift millions fewer CDs than Rihanna. Stuff the popularisers and dumb-downers: let’s make art, people!
I could say the same of the poets – unique, individual voices, every one of them. Jen Hadfield, following her T.S. Eliot Prize win, is the best known of them, and she read an excellent set. However, both Alan Jamieson, widely regarded in Scotland as one of the finest poets in the UK (he writes more poems in Shetlandic than English), and Christie Williamson, among the best of the younger Scottish poets, gave terrific readings. A really memorable night.