Friday, 31 July 2009

"This is a gift..."

White Room remix in moving pictures... well, just a little movement.

My Quicktime Playtime also has a soundtrack. But with DRM and thus resistant to publication.

So, you need to manually (a) click on the youtube vid (well, it's really only audio), , and, 3 secs later (b) click on flickr video... and you'll even get a much better live recording than my DRM itunes restrict.

... Rabbit heart... Hasenherz,...
- if I ever was a singer I wish I'd be like Florence...

oh... did you see the suncatcher?

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The care home for clowns.

Berlin Day 14

"For most of the times, things were usually funny at the care home for clowns. The inhabitants had the habit of tripping up over their enormously large shoes, falling face down into those soft cream cakes that were lying about everywhere. Occasionally, there were visitors who, for a variety of reasons, could or would not keep their own clowns. They took their favourite clown out of the cage, let them make exalted jokes, and laughed when the clown made funny faces. Only the moment when the clowns were lead back to the cages and the visitors had to say goodbye to them with sadness, these moments were terrible. Then they would sit there, those sad clowns with tears in the corner of their eyes." (from the taz, a few days ago)

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Sunny Sunday

... follows from Silent Saturday that was also Blistery, Rainy and Thundery Saturday aka Have a Scotland Day in Berlin.

When we sat underneath the sun cover that was temporarily (and not very well) providing rain shelter, J laughed: 'You brought your weather with you, haven't you.' - How right he was. Hehehe... and I also brought the glorious sunlight that comes with, or rather after, a rainshower. He noticed that too.

So, one of the tasks for while here is to draw and paint the rain and thunder... This is something I haven't succeeded in so far.

But: a few days ago my windows to the West promised a fantastic evening sky.

Thursday evening, westwards
Thursday evening, westwards, 9pm
Pastel in A4 Moleskine

And guess what: they far exceeded on their promise, with this 15 minutes later.

Thursday evening, westwards
Thursday evening, westwards, 9.15pm
Pastel in A4 Moleskine

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Silent Saturday

White Room
White Room, Two views,
Ink in A4 Moleskine

White Room 1, Final
White Room 1, Remix
Mixed media collage, 35x40cm

White Room
White Room, Drying Rack
Pastel and ink, A4 Moleskine

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Berlin.... is getting multi-dimensional

Yesterday, in Nearby Bakery no 5, I got it: wow... 'a little piece' - a Teilchen - full of sweet doughy pastry flavours that you remember, remember and remember. The best little piece for a long time, and their rolls work similar wonders. 'Welcome back, stranger', it shouted.

On a different sensory plane I am listening to the radio. Much of what I listen to in the UK, and then, inbetween, electronica. So much electronica. Wonderful dance music, like proper dance music - neither techno nor club but, again a memory brought to the present of nights danced 12, 15 years ago. Chiquitita mia - I know that you don't like electronica, but please, please, please: vaya bailar conmigo!

Hahaha, and talking about which: I signed up for a Spanish class, the tutor called me today, confused: you know so much and so little. What are all these basic mistakes about? Pick a class, any class... so I did (y Chiquitita.... I'm relieved that you didn't do the same test ;))

And lastly, I discovered some wonderful handmade canvasses, cheap and nearby, just need to get the easel that was offered to me from A to here. And then there's a project emerging: a video project at the Baltic Sea. How exciting - I'll be Best Girl, how's that for a new job description.

More as they unfold...
The little piece is already eaten, but music should do for tonight, not? Take these two... UK to Berlin, past to presence....

There's a lot in here about strangeness, distance, memory and familiarity...

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

More white overlaid

White Room

White Room

White Room

Now... if individual views are combined, it may look like this

White Room
White room wide, mixed media collage,
A3 Sketchbook

There are different possibilities... about the sense of moving across the room; but also about placing different things across the room, the paper plane. I want some large tracing paper and some acrylic medium for proper collaging. But inbetween, a bit of ordinary drawing practice: perspective, attention and detail... phew... so difficult. Yet, I'm sure that will see to the development of the concept too.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Weiss, weiss, weiss, das weiss ich

White room 1, mixed media collage on paper, 35x40cm

... white, white, white, that's what I know.

A room full of white floorboards, window frames, walls and doors. And a bit of orange and lime green.

A room in a flat full of history: of someone's ex-flatmate, of others' ex-comrade, of someone's ex-lover, and another ones ex-lover. Right in the middle of Kreuzberg and the lives lived here.

And still: the flat isn't lived in, noone's home other than temporarily mine. With all its history, memories and things. And the smell of current emptiness.

A room full of white. Obvious white. What's with the layers of it - the windows got painted, new layers on top of old ones. Will they hold? Will they peel away?

Thus: some cartridge paper, some glue, some tissue paper, some acrylic ink and a marker pen. For a start.

White room 1 (Detail), mixed media collage on paper, 35x40cm

Weiss, weiss, weiss, das weiss ich....

It's about experience and knowledge in the middle of interior still life. I am sitting on my new bed and marvel at the sights of whiteness, colour and their invisible connections to past and presence.

Next: better glue, more marker pen, more ink, other walls and windows.

Friday, 17 July 2009

All new beginnings..

... need a bit of art, don't they?

I've been looking at this room for two weeks now. Today it got freshly painted windows and I took it as a cue to get the sketchbook out...

Nothing fancy. It's Berlin tenement dailies... a radiator and a window. It's in graphite and continues the whiteness from the first picture post.

Berlin Day 14

Berlin Day 14

But... there's colour here too. Sunshine orange, 1970s orange and a variety of lime to apple green.

Berlin Day 14

Berlin Day 14

There's a hint of a domestic series coming through the window. But first it looks like another thunderstorm. Oh, how I miss summer thunderstorms, they are so rare in Glasgow. But I've had my fair share over the past fortnight already. - No, that isn't metaphorical but applied weather science :)

Thursday, 16 July 2009

MBTi, learning and development in groups

So, the first insight of personal preferences has been: oh, that's what I like, and there's a name for it. It's simple and rather fundamental - it's about personal positionings (rather than identity).

What made this first set of insights significant is for a good part the person who offered them - S. did her PhD in Chemistry and did so being intensely unhappy - struggled with her lab team and her supervisor with the result that she left feeling incompetent and unable to complete the task in hand - finishing her PhD. She eventually left academia and begun working as a trainer and consultant - offering training courses for PhD students and academic researchers. And relatively late in the process discovered MBTI and her strong preference for intuitive information gathering and a decision-making based on feeling. And realised that her supervisor - along with many other academics do prefer sensory fact finding and rational decision-making.

Now: do we value difference or do we relate to people who do things similar to ourselves?

Now (ad 2): I loved my Phd, it excited me and I loved working on it. And, thinking about it, I always knew that my supervisor contributed extensively to me loving my PhD and the process. He loved ideas, concepts, and connections - and that is the level we connected. He was excited to figure out what ideas and concepts I was excited by. He also, and much stronger than I, made decisions based on the social rather than logic and that meant that he validated my endeavour (and therefore myself who never thought of herself as an academic) and in turn fed my enthusiasm.

Things changed since. And I very much struggled with people with other information gathering and decision-making preferences. One in particular was also clear that - while my creative thinking was intriguing - I wasn't quite able to articulate, put it into a clear language and relate it to what he perceived the core of academic scholarship. 'Gesa, what you identify as your (inter)national area of expertise sounds wishy-washy to me'*, sticks in my mind. - Try harder....

And, yes - I tried harder and did so fairly successfully. But, and that is where S. and her finding her preferred way of working comes in: Logic and facts aren't any better than social and intuition. Thus: knowing what your preference is then enables you to take a position, reflect on it, develop it and change it when it's important...

It's fairly straightforward person-making and reflective abilities. And, while I'm having my head a bit far up my backside at the moment, this is nonetheless intrinsically social. It is made within a set of relationships, is validated within these and, crucially: at points ignored and dismissed.

So, just as much as MBTI can provide such acknowledgement of this is what I'm good at and this is what I'm likely to ignore and therefore opens up the possibility for personal development, it also provides a way of understanding (or at least: looking at) group dynamics.

Most obvious for my work is that in the context of research teams but also in the student supervision I am doing, notably at postgraduate level. One of the first points we discussed referred to giving feedback - commenting on academic work and progress. Here, what one hears as feedback is often strongely shaped by thinking/feeling preferences. If I make decisions based on logic, I want to hear what worked well and what went wrong - I want to have constructive feedback and the piece to be recognised on the strenght and quality of the piece of work I've done; alternatively, I am very concerned with the personal effort I put into the work and the relationship between me and the supervisor, if I have a strong preference for feeling.

Thus, in order to communicate, if I am the person giving feedback, I will need to (a) know my own preference and to have the ability to recognise how that makes me assess a piece of work; but also (b) to appreciate that the other person may have a different preference, may hear differntly to what I mean to say and therefore (c) need to provide a range of clues to communicate.

One way to help? Ask the person what they think about the piece, and the way they frame their response may give you a clue (e.g., if they emphasise the effort they've put into it, they could prefer feeling).

As you may see... this is about difference, and recognising such difference. Consequently, it makes a lot of sense to team teach in teams of people with different perference patterns. Then, some of the students say: well, I really couldn't stand Gesa, but I liked x, and the session probably worked for them. It is also about not assuming: one cannot easily identify preference styles - these are also shaped and modified by so many contextual factors - e.g., in work-contexts I often communicate with a strong Thinking preference, but really that is too straightforward (and possibly not only leaves me but also other confused if I pursue decisions in a different manner).

It's a simple model - and as such limited. Yet, it seems a rather dynamic model: it doesn't say anything about ability but simply about preference; it also doesn't provide an excuse for saying 'oh, I can't deal with detail or with logic'; and it allows for some understanding into group processes and the stuff that can go wrong. What I also like about it is that it offers strengths for each of the preference combinations - rather than saying Sensing is superior to Intuiting it explores the abilities that arise out of each combination.

And that leads onwards and backwards to collecting information and to knowing. I've kind of always known that I pick up stuff from everywhere and most often non-verbal. And it used to confuse the hell out of me because quite often the verbal communication was the complete opposite to all else I knew. So, for as long as I can think I have been communicating with ghosts - the stuff that people do not say. Often with rather disastrous outcomes. That kind of knowledge moved much more to the surface since I started painting (yes: this is a post about art!) and MBTI as a tool validated that. And it also made it clear that it is something precious, important and something to develop further.

So, I'm back with the ghosts and what is important for the paintings I do...

* and me accepting this as a valid question of course also demonstrates the extent to which human capital development and competitiveness is intrinsic to academia.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Learning styles and preference

My kitchen window, this morning

... the post on learning styles is making me circle back to a post from two months back: Tell me, who is it you are?

Part of that was my own circle (complex systems and connections), but it got reinforced by fellow Watermarker Katherine's response and further exploration of her own learning style and what the blog has contributed to that.

It's making me smile how our particular styles shape how and what we write. - Well, that's my response and reaction to her brilliantly reflexive and analytical post on learning by blogging. She starts explicitly: This is about an exploration who I am, a sensemaking of what interests me. And she continues with the role and development of writing.

Writing is something that she used to do professionally and I still do professionally, and when reading her post I thought along about the rules I did and did not impose on my little blogging adventure. There are some clear rules, the clearest is that most people, bar immediate family, who do not blog themselves have only initials. - Leading to funny confusions of whether M is one or indeed several friends (well: currently M stands for three). There is another one for writing: be narrative and associative. Write the way that usually gets you into trouble for your academic publishing adventures.

Thus: the blog, from fairly early on, and now more and more deliberately has been set up as an other, a space that can, is, moves and develops. I am convinced that the blog benefitted from it; while joking at times that my academic writing gets even more like a brainstorming session and thus is even more likely not to fit, I am also certain that my academic writing does benefit from the blogging.

But - and this is now the topic of this post (long lead in, I know): I have most definitely benefitted from that rule which really is about establishing a frame for emergence*.

And that leads me back to my initial comparison of Myers-Briggs Type Indicators (MBTI) being comparable to horoscopes: I'm cancer, so I'm crabbit, I bite, I like moving sideways rather than forward and really, while being all tough, I am very soft if I decide to open my shell - oh, and frequently I do loose my shell, shed my skin and become something else. Well - that's it, isn't it? Simple and it goes for 1/12 of the world's population.

I did find out who sent me the login for the MBTI test - it was part of my research management training course I was about to embark a few weeks later. The course took up a fair bit of time and strongly focussed on personality preferences, team management and career development of yourself and your team.

There were two initial discoveries about the type indicator:

1. I can confuse quite convincingly - the test involves a set of opposite preference pairs:
  • (a) how you gain your energy - from the outside or inside (Extrovert or Introvert)
  • (b) how you gather information - by Sensing or by iNtuiting
  • (c) how you make judgements - by Thinking or by Feeling; and lastly
  • (d) your lifestyle preference - by planning or by being open (Judging or Perceiving)
Well - and I can fairly convincingly pull off an extrovert, a rational thinker and a no decisionmaker. The one I really struggle with is collecting information in a factual, step-by-step mannner rather than starting with the whole. So, I can come across as the idealtype academic - INTJ; possibly also an ENFJ and an INFP.

But - and that is what got me:

2. my preference combination - while pretty rare - offers about 5-8 insights into who I perceive myself to be that I think only I and some close friends know. How on earth did Myers-Briggs know that I love paradoxes? That my desk is generally pretty messy but there's all the connections everywhere? That I know stuff about people often long before they know it themselves? And that I will usually withdraw from situations and people without ever saying much?

There are two more points for this - the implications for group dynamics and for learning and development - that's next. And there's another one, which connects to this as well as to so many other things: it's about the construction of real and imagined readerships - and our positioning towards, alongside or against those we do not know.

* well - take the principles of the Social and Organisational Learning as Action Research group at the University of the West of England, Bristol, for such frame.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Berlin.... in panorama

A bit of Sunday afternoon playtime and a reminder why.

Music: well... really... a bit of lounge chillout dj sound, but my ipod suggested this to me:

... oops... the original disappeared, but how about a bit of diy:

Friday, 10 July 2009

Blogs and learning styles

... well: this is really going to be: MY blog and MY learning style, but: nothing wrong with a bit of generalisation, I suppose.

Jeanette had a useful review of her 1000+ blog entries and her summary of what the blog has enabled her to do made a lot of sense when I was looking back to two years of writing blog posts.

The last June weekend I was again in Bath, at the School of Management of the University of Bath for the third workshop on facilitation - Facilitation in complex adaptive systems was the title of a truly fantastic weekend. While I went through the material from the first course and the second (which I missed) I came across a questionnaire on learning styles - and the role of learning styles for facilitation.

This had come up at many points over the past few months and my various training, tutoring and other workshoppy things I have begun to fill my life with. Generally curious rather than not, I will look favourably at many survey topics and have a go at filling them in.

While preparing this post, I found this website which employs a similar frame of Kolb's and Honey & Mumford's learning cycles and styles to the one we used for the workshop. Have a look at this site and a questionnaire (should you care).

There are two clear preferences for how I like to learn:

1. strongest: by doing,
2. moderately: by reflection

I am pretty indifferent to pragmatism (unsurprising) and to theory (somewhat surprising given my love for anything heavy and conceptual ranging from state theory to poststructuralist feminism*).

My mother tends to designate my (1) preference as: you never listen; my friends tend to say about my (2) preference: you overanalyse.

And you know what?

The blog is perfect for both: it's about writing (reflection) about the stuff I've done - the stuff that worked well, the stuff that worked less well and the stuff that was a plain disaster. And, while we're on the writing: you can write about the writing and the thinking too (ditto). - It's fairly quick, can be haphazard, frequently half-baked, but will leave some sort of record, a place to go back to - which I frequently do and to move on (if not forward) with.

Thus, blogging for me is frequently 'trying out' - how does that look, sound, feel. There is a plan, - as general direction 'towards' or sometimes only 'away from'. But specificities of such direction don't exist, are to be filled in, developed, formulated or abandoned while walking, jumping or backtracking. That doesn't mean that it is spontaneous in content. Frequently stuff I write about has had time to prove in a warm cupboard for a year or so. But posting it, moves it on - it gives it shape, form, a name.

Yesterday's post on fields, commons and enclosures helped with some associations. Once it looked back at me it shouted technology and computer language at me... fields... commons... enclosures - not in the landscape but on the web. Interesting... let's associate more freely for a bit more. - Ha, and that's been one of the insights of doing all these courses on learning styles, project management and team management: to recognise what one can do well, prefers; to find ways of keeping working on such strengths; and to get one or several workarounds for the stuff that's in the blind spot: for me, that's clearly detail and a pragmatic approach.

But maybe the blog can work for those, too?

...oh, and I do like images, too. So, apologies for still being so stingey on images
... somehow the visuals are absent at the moment,
but I hope they'll resume soon...

*well, possibly not: it keeps me intrigued, feeds my imagination and my love for concepts, connections and possibilities - but it's not how I like to learn.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Fields - enclosures, commons and change

One of the last things I did before I left Glasgow was sending off my previous sketchbook (Chile and after) along with all the prints from the assignment 3 to my tutor for the printmaking course. With the distance learning, all material is posted between N. and myself several times, and each time I'm holding my breath that the tube with the prints or the logbook and sketchbook don't get lost. In any case, this time I managed to scan in the recent logbook entries and some of the pages of the sketchbook that I would have liked to take to Germany with me.

It's the sketchbook with some of the Chilean field sketches and some further developments, and ideally I would have like to continue working with this book until it's finished.

So - the pages I hadn't scanned in before were those from an article I read in May which prompted some bigger questions around fields.

Well - fields - they are obvious and approachable. They simply ARE. Are the landscape patterns of my childhood, ever there and ever changing, in colour - greens, yellows, browns and crop rotation. For a while I had - but without success - collected some of the symbolism and mythology around fields, but all the stuff around harvest, fertility and abundance wasn't what I was interested in.

But then I read this piece on the English peasant poet John Clare, who arrived in London in the 1820s from a rural community in Northamptonshire which in the time of him growing up was going to undergo significant change following the enclosure of the English countryside (take this Wiki entry as a starting point on enclosure).

More so than Clare's poetry, it was something in the way the article itself was written that ended up making sense. It was a very descriptive exploration of rural change, of the change that was coming about through the abolishment of common land and the enclosing of individually owned parcels of property:

"The countryside of Clare's childhood was differently owned, differently shaped, differently peopled...a set of intricate concentric and adjacent circles: villages, each with their commons, their pub and church, the green, surrounded by fields divided into strips, the use of which was portioned out with some effort at equitable distribution of the best land."
(Adam Foulds, Everywhere an exile, Guardian Review, 23/5/2009, p. 20)


In contrast to the idea of fields of harvest providing a stable, always there and never changing presence, the article pointed towards the profound changes in access and even more so ownership over land. - Industrialisation and the industrialisation of the countryside, the making efficient and effective of rural land, and: supposedly idle and unproductive rural inhabitants, has in past been and is in present turning up side down those fields, those patterns that seemingly simply exist.

Let's think about the Highland Clearances, the Enclosures, the Levellers, the Zapatistas etc etc....

All this can take us further than harvest. Very good. Let's dig around a little more in such patterns and movements.

A photo? How about a scribbled sketchbook page?

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

... und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt

und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. die dinge, die ich weither mit mir nahm,
sehn selten aus, gehalten an das ihre - : in ihrer großen heimat sind sie tiere, hier halten sie
den atem an vor scham. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt. und alle ihre worte sind bewohnt.*

... and german is such awfully loud language to have all its words inhabited

*from Rainer Maria Rilke's The lonely one

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The Scottish islands with a bit of (poetic) distance

... ok, my timing is often somewhat out of sync. But why not?

I felt really lucky to stumble across the Strawberries just before I left Glasgow. M had sent it to me first last summer along with some more of Edwin Morgan's poems about Glasgow. They are Glasgow just as much - though rather differently - as Eardley's paintings are Glasgow. Funnily enough - though not dissimilar in time, Morgan's Strawberries were maybe written ten years after many of Eardley's paintings - his poems are of a presence while she tries to recapture spirits and experiences of a sense of community that was disappearing.

But... out of the city and up North for today.

Quite a few weeks ago I had been watching some of the programmes of the BBC's poetry season. And made several discoveries. Firstly, obviously, much poetry of which I was utterly clueless. But, almost more significantly: the performance of doing poetry. One was by a young woman about growing up in a London housing scheme. And it was just utterly fabulous in presence. There was also another spoken word artist who was working with primary school children and rhymes, words and sounds as means of expression.... I think if I had someone like that for my German classes of years past, I would have loved them.

The programme I saw and which fascinated me was the one on George Mackay Brown who lived for most of his life in his home town of Stromness on Orkney, and died in the late 1990s. His most famous poem is Hamnavoe - the Norse name for Stromness.

Listen to it on this page of the Poetry Archive.

Hamnavoe by George Mackay Brown

My father passed with his penny letters
Through closes opening and shutting like legends
When barbarous with gulls
Hamnavoe's morning broke

On the salt and tar steps. Herring boats,
Puffing red sails, the tillers
Of cold horizons, leaned
Down the gull-gaunt tide

And threw dark nets on sudden silver harvests.
A stallion at the sweet fountain
Dredged Water, and touched
Fire from steel-kissed cobbles.

Hard on noon four bearded merchants
Past the pipe-spitting pier-head strolled,
Holy with greed, chanting
Their slow grave jargon.

A tinker keened like a tartan gull
At cuithe-hung doors. A crofter lass
Trudged through the lavish dung
In a dream of cornstalks and milk.

In "The Arctic Whaler" three blue elbows fell,
Regular as waves, from beards spumy with porter,
Till the amber day ebbed out
To its black dregs.

The boats drove furrows homeward, like ploughmen
In blizzards of gulls. Gaelic fisher girls
Flashed knife and dirge
Over drifts of herring,

And boys with penny wands lured gleams
From the tangled veins of the flood. Houses went blind
Up one steep close, for a
Grief by the shrouded nets.

The kirk, in a gale of psalms, went heaving through
A tumult of roofs, freighted for heaven. And lovers
Unblessed by steeples, lay under
The buttered bannock of the moon.

He quenched his lantern, leaving the last door.
Because of his gay poverty that kept
My seapink innocence
From the worm and black wind;

And because, under equality's sun,
All things wear now to a common soiling,
In the fire of images
Gladly I put my hand
To save that day for him.

There was an interview with Don Paterson, a contemporary Scottish poet, on the relevance of Mackay Brown. For Paterson, he was so relevant to the current generation of Scottish poets precisely because Mackay Brown offered a way of talking, writing and experiencing nature in a way that was relevant but did not try to appropriate or to own it.

That comment stuck - it resonated with my thought on landscape art as a genre and landscape as a subject of critique. And it also offered a tension to Gabriela Mistral's appropriation of the Chilean landscape for patriotism.

There's no painting to go with this, I'm afraid. But here one of Don Paterson's poems - on the most innermost of the Inner Hebrides, Luing. It's a complex and yet very simple line of thought, I like it.

Again: listen to it here.

Luing by Don Paterson

When the day comes, as the day surely must,
when it is asked of you, and you refuse
to take that lover’s wound again, that cup
of emptiness that is our one completion,

I’d say go here, maybe, to our unsung
innermost isle: Kilda’s antithesis,
yet still with its own tiny stubborn anthem,
its yellow milkwort and its stunted kye.

Leaving the motherland by a two-car raft,
the littlest of the fleet, you cross the minch
to find yourself, if anything, now deeper
in her arms than ever – sharing her breath,

watching the red vans sliding silently
between her hills. In such intimate exile,
who’d believe the burn behind the house
the straitened ocean written on the map?

Here, beside the fordable Atlantic,
reborn into a secret candidacy,
the fontanelles reopen one by one
in the palms, then the breastbone and the brow,

aching at the shearwater’s wail, the rowan
that falls beyond all seasons. One morning
you hover on the threshold, knowing for certain
the first touch of the light will finish you.

What images... gull-gaunt tide, seapink innocence and dreams of cornstalks and milk...

Now... poetry slams... Berlin has some... already seen some posters for it...

But also: landscape painting, round x, fields in oil... all here and in my bag, waiting to be unpacked...

Monday, 6 July 2009

Berlin.... in close-up

Can you see it? Can you not?

Berlin Day 4

Berlin Day 4

I'll see these for the next two months. All in one place. There's more, lots more ... but I think these may be good for tonight...

Berlin Day 4

Berlin Day 4

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Some strawberries for the leaving

...only the best ones... Edwin Morgan's. Fresh from an otherwise dingey subway station, they greeted me yesterday.

Summer lightning over the Kilpatrick Hills - am likely to miss those for this year, though I may be in luck tonight...

Some more of Edwin Morgan's wonderful poetry? About Glasgow? About love? About anything weird inbetween?

Try these:

Oh - and in my bag now is a tiny book by another Scottish poet - The Collected Poems of George Mackay Brown... I'm quite pleased with my prioritising - it 1/10 of my luggage allowance but part of a plan for Scottish landscape escapism...