Scottish Poetry News: November 2019

Two book launches at The Scottish Poetry Library, centenary celebrations for Hamish Henderson continue and a new open mic night comes to Kirkcaldy

Preview by Beth Cochrane | 29 Oct 2019
  • Book Highlights

The end of the year certainly isn’t slowing down in Scottish poetry, with many more launches and events due before the festive season threatens to drown us in tinsel. The year has been full of celebrations; a particular jewel in 2019’s calendar was the centenary of Hamish Henderson. On 7 November, Hamish Henderson: Collected Poems is released. Edited by Corey Gibson, it's the first collection of poems from Henderson since 2000, advocating for, like the celebrations throughout the year, a broader appreciation of Henderson’s works.

In a very different vein, Astro Poets: Your Guides to the Zodiac by Dorothea Lasky and Alex Dimitrov, launches with Picador on 31 October, ready for your November reading list. Whatever your view on astrology, we can all agree that the online phenomenon of the Astro Poets are experts in insight, advice and humour. Making light of the everyday but insistent on creating clarity in the contemporary world, this is astrology never before seen in newspapers. This is online astrology for the 21st century, ready with sharp wit and millennial musings.

Carcanet continues its huge 2019 output, releasing multiple titles in November. Douglas Crase releases The Revisionist – his first collection from 1981 reprinted – and The Astropastorals. Having been out of print since 1987, Carcanet has recognised the need for this collection to re-enter the literary consciousness. Carcanet, in collaboration with the Wordsworth Trust, will also publish Lucy Newlyn’s Vital Stream and Carol Rumens’ Smart Devices. Both collections are remarkable in their own right. Newlyn’s is a long sonnet sequence which takes place across six months in 1802, while Smart Devices is a collection of 52 poems Rumen has previously discussed in her regular Poem of the Week column for The Guardian.

If listening to poetry is more up your street, there’s a new open mic night launching at Kings Live Lounge in Kirkcaldy. Organised by Left Behind Productions, Words Open Mic takes place every Tuesday at 7pm and is open to all poets, comedians and writers from across multiple genres. Although entry is free, donations are welcomed.

Combining news of an exciting launch and accompanying event, Stewed Rhubarb is delighted to announce the publication of playwright Jo Clifford’s The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven. Launching on 19 November at the Scottish Poetry Library, the collection has been brought together to celebrate The Gospel’s ten year anniversary. Clifford has contributed a new foreword to the collection, and there are works from the family of artists and activists who have supported the work over the decade. A multitude of voices rise together in this celebration of the play’s success and longevity.

On 16 November, also launching at the Scottish Poetry Library is The Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry. Guests on the night include contributors Katrina Porteous, Samuel Tongue, Mark Russell and Mark Ryan Smith as well as editors Anne Caldwell and Professor Oz Hardwick. Prose poetry is often overlooked in literary circles, but it’s with delight this anthology includes work in the form from a huge range of writers from across the UK, including new Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, as well as other long established poets such as Jen Hadfield, Helen Mort and George Szirtes.

For poets looking to submit their work to publications and competitions, Back from the Brink are looking for poetry and prose to publish in an upcoming anthology which helps readers imagine a unique future where humans and non-humans can co-exist; how people can better create relationships between animals, plants and ourselves. Poets can submit up to three pieces and prose writers up to 2000 words; applications due by 15 Decemeber.