Saturday 5 November 2011

Fiesta Time (9): Scotland at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival

We spent a grey November day in Aldeburgh, enjoying the 23rd Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, laid on by The Poetry Trust. We had visited this beautiful east coast town before, but this was our first visit in 'festival season'. 

Aldeburgh is proud of its poet, George Crabbe ... 

We had tickets for the Scottish Islands Reading event in the Jubilee Hall. Poets like Jo Bell, who had not arrived when I took this photo, and Penelope Shuttle joined the audience of local people (like us!) and followers who had come from further afield. There were representatives from the Poetry Society, and it was good to meet Judith Palmer for the first time.   

Words are the building blocks of poetry (see photo above), and it was particularly exciting to hear three poets flitting between languages, namely the languages of Gaelic, Shetlandic and English. Of course, this kind of rich diversity is not new to me, having just moved from the bilingual climate of Wales where the 'dragon has two tongues' (see here).

The three sets of readings were by Robert Alan Jamieson from Lerwick, Shetland; Meg Bateman, a lecturer at the Gaelic college, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, on Skye - and an honorary lecturer in English at St Andrews University ... and Rody Gorman, who was born in Dublin and also lives on Skye. Rody has translated Cavafy poems into Gaelic.

There were various threads running through the poems, and Jamieson's short poem, 'Welcome to the Folk Museum', struck a particular chord with me, reminding the reader (or listener) just how easy it is to 'romanticise' the Highland and island way of life, glossing over the stark realities at e.g. the time of the Clearances.

Readers of this blog will know that we have a great affinity with Eilean a' Cheò aka the 'Misty Isle'. We also enjoy (if that is the right word) the heart-rending poetry of the Raasay poet, Sorley MacLean, so we were particularly pleased to have the opportunity of hearing some modern Gaelic voices. It was interesting to learn that while Gaelic has a limited lexicon, it has a richness of its own as so many of its words have a plethora of meanings.

Thank you to all took part and to those who gave us fascinating insights into the poetry of the northern isles.  

Aldeburgh ... in November

We spotted the home of a famous Aldeburgh resident ...


Crafty Green Poet said...

sounds like a very interesting poetic event.

Belva Rae Staples said...

What a lovely event this must have been! I was glad to hear of your recent trip to the States and how much you enjoyed it. I appreciate your kind comments on my work and your friendship.