Scottish Centre for Geopoetics
Newsletter nr10
April 2003

Welcome to all new and old subscribers to the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics newsletter. We hope you will take part in our forthcoming activities and let us know your ideas for develop ing the work of the Centre. The Constitution of the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics was fully discussed and agreed at our meeting on 14 March 2003. lts adoption should assist us to achieve charitable status in the coming months. An interesting and varied programme of events was also agreed.


Living On An Island: An Approach To Geopoetics
Thursday 1 May 2003 at 7.30 pm in the Quaker Meeting
House Victoria Terrace, off George 1V Bridge, Edinburgh

Norrie Bissell will lead a discussion on geopoetics as a radical alternative to the separation of mind and body and of humanity from the earth which has characterised a large part of Western thinking. Geopoetics is out to open up a new space. It is a way of being in the world which involves both study and deconditioning work on ourselves to be more open, receptive and creative. His talk will look at living on an island as one way of developing a poetics of the earth by beginning to understand how the land was formed, and how the sea and the weather have shaped it and the lives of those who live there.

Guided Nature Walk on Inchcailleach on Loch Lomond
Saturday 10 May 2003

Jim McCarthy, a Board Member of Scottish Natural Heritage and author of several books on Scotland’s land and people, will lead a guided nature walk on the island of Inchcailleach, part of the National Nature Reserve. If you wish to go, contact him on 0 131 229 19 16 or at before 30 April. Don’t delay, places are going fast

Edinburgh Powerlines
Wednesday 18 June 2003 at 7.30 pm in the Quaker Meeting House Victoria Terrace,
off George IV Bridge, Edinburgh

Gerrie Fellows’ poetry sequence Powerlines is a personal remapping on the ground of New Zealand and Scotland – a book about peripheries. She’ll read from the book and discuss its connections with geopoetics.

Kenneth White at the Edinburgh International Book Festival
Sunday 24 August 2003

Kenneth White will give a reading at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, as part of the launch of his Complete Poems, and it is hoped that he will be able to meet up with members of the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics. Details to follow.

Wiston Lodge Weekend
Friday 19 – Sunday 21 September 2003

An opportunity to take part in a geopoetic weekend of discussions, hill and woods walking, words and music making etc at Wiston Lodge near Biggar. Early booking advised.

Forty Years of the White World
Friday 1O – Sunday 12 October 2003 at the University of St Andrews

A conference to mark forty years since the publication of Kenneth White’s first poetry collection, Wild Coal, and to critically appraise his work. Contact Gavin Bowd at

The Remapping of Scotland
The text of Kenneth White’s Consignia Lecture at the 2001 Edinburgh Intemational Book Festival is published in an edbookfest pamphlet at £2.50


When we meet there is often discussion about the meaning of geopoetics, simply because we don’t yet have in English all the work done by Kenneth White in French, in particular the 350 page introduction to geopoetics, Le Plateau de l’Albatros. So at our Wiston Lodge weekend everyone wrote down what they thought Geopoetics is:

- don’t know / don’t know enough about geopoetics – would like a description/definition
- I’ve no idea at geopoetics is, but perhaps it should be, at least, multidisciplinary
- a germ of an idea trying to express everything
- a new fusion of art, science and the social sciences, leading to a more open, yet integrated view of existence
- the exploration through language of sensations of geology, topography, climate and hence ecology, language being the humanity of the natural world
- the inter–relation between the land and literature, particulary in Scotland.
- the relationship between art, culture,world and Earth, in the widest sense of these words. lt aims to promote dialogue between writers, artists and intellectuals in diverse fields who share a sense of wonder about the Earth and who seek to reflect this sense of wonder in their work
- a way of being on earth, a poetic approach which attempts to break down separations between selves and the world and between different disciplines. lt has great possibilities for cultural life renewal. creative renewal here and in world the world
- awakening participative conscience ture
- grounded dreams

This is our collective map of the weekend at Wiston Lodge



scale: each to their own

Wiston Lodge Geopoetics zone - heated discussion?
Clyde => Beginning of Empire

on the way up with our baggage
craws in Autumnal stubble
Wiston churchyard Geddes grave
belted Galloway coos
don’t forget the tongues

wee chooky robin
big beech row
7am Thinking of him now - a poem for Tony

Bly White compared
Fat Lips Castle (site of)
amanita muscaria
Rachel Si Mads Tribs
tea and little Tribs grasses painting present

Three green knolls
fairy built and ancient
a flat slate slap of water
beaded web wet with light
a worm coiling into deserted
rabbit hole coiling and stretching
luxurious on the homely haunted
grass here where not an inch
untouched by human hand
the reeds cropped the
ways and stiles and
drystane lines tumbledown
and on the way back
past chained dogs
barking and a sign that says
vicious dogs running free
walking the road verge
the blown out tyre
the shattered windscreen
orangina bottles the
strewn cans plastic
bottles two pot bound
hyacinths and then to
graves for Plenderleiths
and Jamiesons,
a babe of one year and brave
Marion: weep not for me
she says... died 1865

early mark-making
day 2
cloud in the mouth
ice 10,000 years ago
700+ metres (=20,000 metres to jim)
with rusting pines

Ecologist pontificating
on altitudinal zones
& boring Sherpa Tensing
out of his skull

Ravenous ravens awaiting corpses

Suddenly sun bursts through morning mist

To Paint The Green Hill Brown
A Celebration For Tony

Many of Scotland’s finest musicians, poets and singers came to celebrate the outstanding life of study, creativity and commitment of Tony McManus at a capacity concert in the St Bride’s Centre in Edinburgh last November.
His friends in the George Campbell Hay Project played Tonys musical arrangement of some of Campbell Hay’s poems and Gerda Stevenson sang another, The Smokey Smirr o Rain. Some of Tony’s own songs were performed by The Birlinn Ensemble and Eileen Penman, with whom Tony had sung many a time, and Margaret Bennett, Alan Jones and Rod Paterson brought their own marvellous voices to the celebration.
Some of their Gaelic, Scots and Shetlandic poems were read by Aonghas MacNeacail, Matthew Fitt and Robert Alan Jamieson, who had all worked with and been friends of Tony. Norrie Bissell brought greetings from the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics and read A Poem for Tony by Gerrie Fellows, his own poem Thinking of Him Now, and songs Lament for McManus and several other poems by Kenneth White, with Michel Byrne reading them in French.Kevin Anderson gave a eulogy to Tony with his customary mixture of insight and warm good humour. Just as moving was when Catherine Murray,Tony’s niece, performed the long poem Observations from a new territory which was written by Tony in memory of her brother, John Michael Murray, who died at the age of 15. It is a most beautiful meditation on life and death, and was articulated with great clarity and depth of understanding by Catherine. Her readings of Tony’s poems revealed to those who may not have known what a fine poet as well as a musician and thinker Tony was.
Raymond Ross, editor of Cencrastus, John Greig, Tony’s closest friend who also played sang and spoke of Tony, and of course Nanon McManus, who jointly organised this special occasion, deserve our gratitude. Tony took part in many such nights in honour of other great Scots, and someone said that it was the kind of night at which you almost expected Tony to appear at any moment, but in his words and music Tony was there that night, and always will be there in the hearts and minds of all those who knew and loved him.



Contributions to the Newsletter on geopoetic themes are invited (max. 400 words), as are suggestions for its name and ideas for e.g. proposed geopoetic collaborations.
Please subscribe on the enclosed form if you haven’t already done so (£ 10/£5 conc).CONTACTS
Peter Gray, secretary, 3 Cochran Terrace, Edinburgh EH7 4BJ Tel: 0 131 557 2298
Norrie Bissell, director, 340 Lincoln Avenue, Glasgow G 13 3 LP Tel: 0 141 959 6033
Richard Browne, Treasurer, Main Point Books, 8 Lauriston Street, Edinburgh EH3 9DJ Tel: 0 131 228 4837
International Institute of Geopoetics, website and links: