Read Raw Ltd

 

Promoting Creative Writing in Scotland

 

Featured Poet

 

Tracy Patrick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tracy Patrick is a writer and performer from Paisley.  She started writing poetry in 2000 when she became a member of the Paisley Writers’ Group.  She has since had poetry and prose published in Nomad, Cutting Teeth, New Writing Scotland, Southlight, The Eildon Tree, and Poetry Cornwall, as well as numerous small press magazines, anthologies, and websites, including www.laurahird.com and glasgowtosaturn.com.  She was selected for the SQA anthology Write Times when her work was featured in posters on the Glasgow Underground.  She was a winner in Glasgow City Council’s Freedom Poetry competition celebrating the anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela, and she has recently completed the MLitt in Creative Writing at GlasgowUniversity.

 

In 2001, Tracy found herself onstage for the first time performing her work.  The following year, she won the Glasgow and Edinburgh poetry slams and eventually decided that, rather than being a performance poet, she’s a poet who sometimes performs.  She has since performed at various venues from Big Word, to the Wicker Man Festival in Dumfries.  She has also been part of various performance groups including Chromatic Voices, and Gaelic Voices, a multi-media collaboration produced by Confab, exploring Gaelic culture in contemporary Scotland.  She also enjoys writing and performing monologues.  Recently, her triptych of monologues, Three Marys, was performed with Helen Cuinn and Lou Thornton at Glasgow’s West End Festival.  Tracy has also been known to perform in musicals and is set to tour this year in Miss Smith, also produced by Confab.      

 

For the past eleven years, Tracy has been founder editor of the small press environmental poetry magazine Earth Love, whose proceeds raise money for conservation causes.  The magazine has had many contributions from all over the globe.  During its time, Earth Love has featured the work of well-known writers such as Paisley poet Graham Fulton, Zimbabwe playwright and poet Tawona Sithole, Gaelic poet and novelist Angus Peter Campbell, and the late and fondly remembered, Edwin Morgan - who kindly donated an unpublished poem.  In 2006, the magazine acquired funding for an anthology and the editor is currently seeking funding for a second anthology which was intended to celebrate ten years of the magazine but, as funding is difficult to come by these days, may end up celebrating an eleven or twelve year anniversary.  To find out more, visit the Earth Love website at: www.earthlovepoetrymagazine.co.uk   

 

Tracy has just completed her first novel, ‘The Darkness Between Stars’, a black comedy set in Glasgow and the Western Isles, in which an ambitious advertising executive accidentally kills her religiously conservative future father-in-law.  If it ever gets published, she’ll ride through Paisley naked on a horse.

 

As a final word of warning, never ask Tracy to play the guitar.  It will be the worst thing you ever do.  If she picks one up, leave the room – quickly.

 

PS: She is one of the world’s growing number of vegans.

 

 

 

 

An early memory of a Glasgow landmark:

 

 

A EURO-VISION

 

The most important event

in my eight year old world

                              

Bucks Fizz at the Glasgow Apollo.

 

The hall bubbled with anticipation.

Glamorous Aunt Cathy took my hand.

 

We crammed into the darkness,

the distant stage

 

                      obscured

by a big yellow pillar.  “I can’t see. 

                     I can’t see.”

 

“Ssh,” she said,

and that Euro-winning moment

where the boys whip off the girls’ long skirts       

 

to reveal             cheerleader minis

 

took place behind a stone column

and a thousand heads.

 

All I got were gasps and glimpses

when they darted off for costume changes

as if they couldn’t make their minds up what to wear. 

 

                                  *

 

And now when I get that feeling,

of the stage being small and far away

I think of Bucks Fizz at the Glasgow Apollo

 

              as if

the big yellow pillar

              has

 

never really moved,

and that life is all entrances

and exits and vague memories

 

of a blonde woman in a gold lamé bikini

that may or may not be true. 

   

 

 

Two poems dedicated to Robert Tannahill, Paisley’s best loved bard:

 

 

CASTING CLOTH

 

It was spring when he was found

In a coffin vein of the Candren burn

His coat and silver watch upon the ground

 

The white thorn in the hedges spread their bloom

And on the braes burst stars of yellow broom

It was spring when he was found

 

At three am, his dreams discarded

No elegy to comfort, he departed                                                  

His coat and silver watch upon the ground

 

And all was gold and glistening in the sky

Above the body of this lonely boy

It was spring when he was found

 

Reflections on the reservoir

The lavrock singing to the poet’s altar 

His coat and silver watch upon the ground

 

A loom full of silent thread

A wreath of words around his shy head

It was spring when he was found

His coat and silver watch upon the ground

 

  

 

MEMENTO

 

I followed his words upstream

Away from the main cursus

To a quiet culvert

Of yellow broom and weeping willow

Undisturbed by self interest

 

Beside the linn I heard him

Playing an old sad flute of

Forgotten rhymes, unsure

Of his own battered legacy

Folding his soul close as night

 

I recalled how he removed

His silver watch, placed his coat

Over the flowers, no stars

In the carry, just a bitter

Baptism for a lone sufferer

 

His young tongue like a milk white

Thorn that continued singing,

Opened its bashful lips,

Like the Mavis, no moralist

But nature’s torn elegist

 

************************************

 

ONLY A VOICE

 

in his mouth he carries

three small ghosts

they have no breath

but his

through his eyes they see

the uncluttered sky

and on his tongue they hear

the words

they had no time

to speak

tomorrow hope peace

 

so he has become their home

they remind him

of the unexpected tang of salt

of the trust they were

too young

to lose

he hoists their memories

on the wind

that follows him

to forgetful shores

 

offers them his veins

but they do not want blood

only songs and remembrance

a place they can plant

their innocence

 

like in the hearts

of the flowers

he stops to breathe

clasping in his arms

the spiny stalks

warm red petals pressed

to his cheek

 

thank god he says

and it is not only his voice

he hears

              it is not

                              only his voice

 

 

 

This poem is a version of the Gaelic prayer – according to Carmichael’s Carmina Gadelica - that accompanies the nightly custom of smooring of the fire.  This involves spreading the embers over the hearth, creating a slight heap, or boss, in the centre, then laying three peats so each touches the boss, and covering the whole with ashes before reciting the prayer.  The idea is to keep the fire lit but subdued overnight.  The ritual is commonly performed by a woman.

 

 

SMOORING THE FIRE

 

I lay this peat

In the name of the flame

Do not let it go out

Keep it burning

This night and every night

In heart, memory, mind

Keep the fire in our bones and tongues

Its ancient song drumming in our ears

Do not let us forget

At the end of each day

We lie edge to edge

Like peats in the flame

Our common centres

Touching, surrounding

This hearth, this house

Seinnidh sinn fhathast

Seinnidh sinn fhathast

And still we sing

 

************************************

 

TOO MUCH SALT

 

Shore is like a muscle, self-trained to be

still, motionless, gold.  It has no concept

of always.  It does not think of victories

and defeats.  The shore has spent a lifetime

watching the sea.  The sea is blue and black

from beating hard against the rocks.  It longs

to be victorious, ever trying

to engulf shore.   Sea does not understand

shore’s impassivity.  Sea endlessly

changes; when finished roaring it subsides. 

Changeability is its permanence. 

Yet sea knows it will find a shore, and shore

knows sea will always return.  Each carries   

the memories of the other, and too much salt.

 

 

 

These two poems are about the Fortinghall Yew on the banks of Loch Tay, estimated to be Europe’s oldest tree at 6000 years old.  One legend states that Pontius Pilate played in the branches as a child, though this is unlikely.

 

  

YEW TREE

 

You didn’t ask

to be born

but here you are

in all the mystery

of your own rebirth

 

shedding

the heart of you

expanding outwards

life cleaving to your

fractured trunk

 

sculpted

by wind and

rain, the dead

in every pillar,

rooks in branches

 

crowing

your name –

if trees have names.

You were old

before Noah

 

speak

to me from

the mouths

of your leaves

teach me to wear

 

the rings

of endurance.

Until then

I am a child

swallowing its tongue.

 

 

 

FEART-NAN-GALL  

(Stronghold of the Strangers)

 

Consider creation:

The mother seed, pale green and glacier-wet.

 

This anchored root,

Assailed by rain and elemental joy.

 

Each pithy hand

That stripped the fibrous bark and bent the bow.

 

The virgin fields,

Their white-knuckled circles pleading for growth.

 

A spark of Beltane fire

Igniting new-born chambers of the sun.

 

The guilty blood-stained kings

Hiding behind the white fort, Dun Geal.

 

A plague of bodies darkening the earth

Galar Mor 

 

Sanctified church,

Its tombs of leaden grief stuffed with roots.

 

And pilgrims

Plucking relics from divinity’s toes.

 

I am weary.

Take your memories and go.  To me, you are all strangers.

 

************************************

Wild within

 

Uncounted hours

you waited by the door.

Tufts of your ears,

two crescent moons,

squat pyramid of your body,

brimmed with patience.

 

At sound of my feet

pad-padding, your tail

imprinted the air

with a question,

fur bristling for sight of that

broken, plastic clothes peg

that I shoved

under the gap

to meet your paw

quick as silver.

 

A bridge: a bond

between wild and within,

you wove tiger stripes

between my shins;

the wearied looks from neighbours

(it’s her and that daft cat again).

 

Let me dream of you,

fleas and all –

the vibrato of your purr

in my ear, constellations

of wash lines above my head,

rows and rows of pegs

like twinkled stars.

And silence when I wake

- as though you simply

disappeared,

ear high through the grass.

 

 

 

All poems on this page are the copyright © of Tracy Patrick

 

 

 

 

 

 

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