2003 was a very successful
year for the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics and 2004 promises to be equally
good. Last year we held a lively and interesting series of talks and
events, raised our public profile considerably, and increased our membership.
The publication by our new imprint Alba Editions of Geopoetics: place,
culture, world by Kenneth White has been well received, and we hope to
publish later this year a book of papers and possibly a DVD or video of
the Forty Years of the White World conference at the University of St Andrews
in October which was attended by speakers and participants from France,
Morocco, Sweden, England and Scotland.
The first issue of Saltire magazine has an article on geopoetics by Kenneth
White and the current edition of Cencrastus contains the talk “Living
on an Island: an Approach to Geopoetics” by Norman Bissell, who was
interviewed in January by Iain Anderson in his Celtic Connections Conversations
In a recent Herald article Mike Russell said “what that inspirational
cultural thinker Kenneth White calls ‘geopoetics’ … is
back in the news because the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics has despatched
far and wide a pamphlet which seeks to explain the idea. Even a cursory
reading reveals an astonishingly exciting challenge to the way we think
about the world and to our received notions of what our cultural history
is. Scotland needs such thinking …”
At our AGM in November Office-bearers and council members were elected
to continue this work. Our programme this year will include more events
in Glasgow, as well as in Edinburgh and elsewhere.
Programme of Events
Thursday 12 February at 7.45pm Putting the Geo in Geopoetics: a talk with
slides by Jim McCarthy at the Quaker Meeting House, Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh.
Geology and geography have always been fundamental to geopoetics, and in
this introductory talk Jim McCarthy will show how geology could hardly
be more important for Scotland as the basis of its population distribution,
its agriculture, forestry, and its extractive industries. Its classic exposures
over 500 million years include some of the oldest rocks in the world and
underpin our most valued landscapes and ecology, our natural habitats and
wildlife, and our outdoor activities.
The story of the laying down of the foundations of Scotland encompasses
vast volcanic eruptions, submersion under the sea, great earth movements
and tidal waves, and enormous sheets of ice covering the whole land. What
we perceive and what we write about in the natural world, whether in poetry
or prose, from the mountain tops to our coasts, in Scotland or elsewhere,
is derived from the underlying rocks and the great geological forces over
aeons of time which have shaped the landscapes we see now.
Jim McCarthy is the author of several books about Scotland and is a Scottish
Natural Heritage board member.
Friday 20 February at
7.30pm The Atlantic Poetics of Kenneth White: a talk by Norman Bissell
to the Lennox Literary Society at Balloch Library.
This talk will provide a general introduction to the work of Kenneth
White as poet-thinker-teacher with particular reference to his Open World:
Collected Poems 1960 – 2000. It will focus on the influence of
the Atlantic seaboard on his work, and his theory and practice of geopoetics
as the key to radical cultural renewal for our times. For further details
tel. Alistair Paterson at 01389 830739.
Monday 1 March at
7.45pm “Letter from a Scottish Outpost”:
Kenneth White on Radio 3.
Saturday 6 March at
11am A visit to the Hidden Gardens at the Tramway, Glasgow, led by Gerry
Loose, poet and co-designer of the Gardens. Gather
at 11am at the main entrance to the Tramway, Albert Drive, Pollockshields.
Friday 19 March at
7.30pm Discussing Herons: a poetry reading by Graham Hartill and Gerry
Loose at the Glasgow Buddhist Centre 329 Sauchiehall
St opposite the CCA. A rare chance to hear readings by two poets who
are very much in tune with geopoetics, having spent many years working
the earth and studying eastern ways of thinking.
Friday 26 – Saturday
27 March Conference of the
International Institute of Geopoetics in Geneva.
Saturday 3 April at
11am A visit and workshop at Rosslyn Glen, House, and Chapel. Gather
at the main entrance to Rosslyn House at 11am.
Tuesday 27 April at
7.30pm Putting the Geo in Geopoetics: a talk with slides by Jim McCarthy
(see above) at the Quaker Meeting House 38 Elmbank
behind the King’s Theatre, Charing Cross, Glasgow.
Saturday 8 May at
11am A visit to the Isle of May.
Saturday 5 June 10am
- 5pm Islands day: talks, poetry, readings at the Quaker Meeting House,
Tuesday 15 June at
7.30pm Living on an Island: an Approach to Geopoetics, a revised talk
by Norman Bissell at the Quaker Meeting House, Glasgow.
All talks/readings are free, but a collection will be taken to
A selection of books by Kenneth White and some other poets will
be available at these talks and readings.
Tree Day and Night
In November we walked through Dalkeith Old Wood following the river
much of the way, stopping to marvel at individual oak shapes,
at the holly
growing out of some, and learning from Tess Darwin much about
their history, and
how these and other oak woods survived because they were hunting
forests. Later we discussed their roots, the moulds and insects
the sounds of the river, the Atlantic oak woods of Argyll, and
read from Richard
Mabey, Thomas A Clark, Edy Irwin, Walt Whitman and others.
In December Tess Darwin took the group on an illustrated journey
through the mythology of trees including the Tree of Life and
the Bodhi tree,
with references to rowan, hazel, hawthorn, birch, apple, and
pine. It was our
last and largest meeting of the year.
A new centre for geopoetics in Canada.
As a direct result of a series of lectures in December 2003 by Kenneth
White in Montreal, and, further down the St Lawrence River, at Chicoutimi,
a new centre for geopoetics in Canada, taking over from the original
group Portage and expanding its perspectives, has been set up in Quebec.
This centre will be based at the University of Quebec in Montreal, but
will also be open to any persons interested in the field of geopoetics.
The themes to be explored by the group will be : nomadism, landscape
(northern, oceanic, desert, mountain, urban), oral memory (as a way of
tracing lost geographies), and the relationship between place, writing
The centre will kick off its activities this winter with lectures by
Eric Waddell on the cartographic painting of the Australian John Wolseley,
Christina Horvath on geopoetics in the urban context, and Helen Guy on
Special Offer to Members
The following books by Kenneth White are available at a special discount
(including post and packing) to Scottish Centre for Geopoetics members
Open World: The Collected Poems 1960-
2000 at £18 cf. £20
Geopoetics : place, culture, world at £5
Coast to Coast, Interviews and Conversations at £6 cf. £7.95
Cheques payable to the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics should be sent
to Norman Bissell at the address below.
Subscriptions: New and Due
send your name, postal and e-mail address with a cheque for £10/£5
concessions, payable to the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics, to the treasurer,
Richard Browne, at the address below. Annual subscriptions are now due
unless paid since March 2003.
Norman Bissell, director, 340 Lincoln Avenue Glasgow G13 3LP tel. 0141 959
6033 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Simon Ross, secretary, 14 Union Street Stonehouse ML9 3LF tel. 01698 792283
or at email@example.com
Richard Browne, treasurer, Main Point Books, 8 Lauriston Street Edinburgh EH3
9DJ tel. 0131 228 4837 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
International Institute of Geopoetics, website and links: http://www.geopoetique.net