Scottish Centre for Geopoetics
Newsletter nr13
April 2004

2004 has started well for the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics with a successful series of events which began in Edinburgh with Jim McCarthy’s illustrated talk on the geology of Scotland (coming soon to Glasgow), continued with Gerry Loose’s informative tour of the Hidden Gardens, and enjoyable poetry reading with Graham Hartill in Glasgow, and returned east for a visit to Rosslyn Chapel and Glen. More members from east and west are now attending events in both cities.

The recent conference of the International Institute of Geopoetics held in Geneva has led to the formation of a Swiss centre for geopoetics based at the University of Geneva.

Geopoetics: place, culture, world by Kenneth White, the first introduction to geopoetics in English published by our Alba Editions imprint, has been favourably reviewed in The Herald, and orders continue to come in. Preparations are on-going for the publication of a book of papers given at the Forty Years of the White World conference at the University of St Andrews last October, and a report of the conference is in the new edition of Markings magazine which is available from John Hudson at
Two new books by Kenneth White (one essays, the other narrative) will be launched at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 August 2004.

Our Islands day, in conjunction with island magazine, has created considerable interest but we have decided to postpone it from June until the autumn to give ourselves more time to arrange the day’s programme and publicise it. Suggestions about speakers and offers of participation in the Islands day are most welcome.

Programme of Events

Tuesday 27 April at 7.30pm Putting the Geo in Geopoetics: a talk with slides by Jim McCarthy at the Quaker Meeting House, 38 Elmbank Crescent behind the King’s Theatre, Charing Cross, Glasgow.

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.

Saturday 8 May at 2.30pm a guided visit to the Isle of May. Meet at 12 noon at the Kellie Castle Walled Garden near Pittenweem, and at 2.15pm at the Anstruther Fishing Museum. The boat trip takes an hour and we will have about 3 hours ashore on the island, which is a major bird sanctuary, returning to Anstruther at 7.30pm.
If you intend to go, it is essential to book a place by sending a cheque for £14 (made out to the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics) to arrive not later than 24 April 2004 to Richard Browne, Treasurer, at the address below. Travel directions will be sent to those going.

Saturday 5 June at 10.30am – 12.30pm A follow-up workshop to the Isle of May visit and a discussion to plan our Islands day of talks, poetry readings and artwork at the Quaker Meeting House, Victoria Terrace Edinburgh.

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, 38 Elmbank Crescent, Charing Cross, Glasgow.
This talk will look at one approach to developing geopoetics by means of a study of the Isle of Luing in Argyll and how its geology, the Atlantic Ocean and the weather have shaped the island and the lives of those who live there.
All talks/discussions are free, but a collection will be taken to defray costs.

Special Offer to Members

The following books by Kenneth White are available to Scottish Centre for Geopoetics members at the above talks and by post at a special discount (including post and packing):
Open World: The Collected Poems 1960-2000 at £18 cf. £20
Geopoetics : place, culture, world at £5
cf. £6
Coast to Coast, Interviews and Conversations at £6 cf. £7.95

Orders and cheques payable to the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics should be sent to Norman Bissell at the address below.

Subscriptions: New and Due

Please 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
Simon Ross, secretary, 14 Union Street Stonehouse ML9 3LF tel. 01698 792283 or at
Richard Browne, treasurer, Main Point Books, 8 Lauriston Street Edinburgh EH3 9DJ tel. 0131 228 4837 or at
International Institute of Geopoetics, website and links: