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Callander Poetry Weekend 2015

September 13, 2015

I’m still buzzing from the Callander Poetry Weekend (4 – 6 September), marvellously hosted as always by Sally Evans and her husband Ian at King’s Bookshop in this small Scottish town.  It was my first time at this annual event and I was much looking forward to it after everything Maureen, a regular, had told me about it.  And, by jingo, I was not disappointed!  We had a wonderful time.

I loved Callander itself, a gorgeous touristy town in the Trossachs with the River Teith winding through it and the Crags towering above, “the Gateway to the Highlands” as known.  The weather was sunny and warm.  And the poetry… Ah, the poetry, there was such a range of fine work, much of it quite awe-inspiring.

Readings were held in the shop, the garden behind, and in the Kirk Hall too.

On the Saturday afternoon, in the Kirk Hall, several members of Chester Poets including Maureen and I participated in the launch of Lark Skies – a celebration of WWI poets by reading our contributions.  My poem was about Charles Hamilton Sorley, Maureen’s about Thomas Kettle (Irish like her), and I know we were all very proud to be included in this special book.

On the Sunday morning, in the sun-filled Friendship Garden behind the Kirk Hall, Morelle Smith led a memorial reading for Tessa Ransford, Dominique Carton and Elizabeth Burns, a truly beautiful and moving tribute to these three Callander regulars, who will never be forgotten.  Wild geese flew over, honking, then Magi McGlynn inscribed hearts and swallows in the gravel.  At the close we had harp music, wonderful harp music from Rita Bradd.

Several of us went to a riverside café, and so engrossing was our chat that I quite forgot I was due to give my reading in the bookshop garden.  It was with a shock that I realised I was going to be late.  I raced up the High Street with Maureen, others following, and Sally kindly fitted me in.  My reading seemed to go quite well and a few people did say nice things to me afterwards about my prose-poem ‘Twin Dakotas’.

There was a moment of hilarity in the afternoon when, in the middle of a reading, chickens appeared under the bushes, clucking loudly.  Then a dog joined in!  Order was soon restored, though, and unfazed the poet was able to complete his very lovely reading.

When her time came to take the lectern, Maureen gave a really terrific reading and finished by playing ‘Danny Boy’ on her harmonica.  Of course the audience loved her.

Thank you, Sally and Ian, for your tireless work in hosting the Poetry Weekend.  I thoroughly enjoyed my Callander debut and look forward to next time.

Paul Beech

Copyright © Paul Beech 2015

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From → Poetry, Reviews

5 Comments
  1. I read the pure joy in your words Paul. The picture you paint is wonderful. You made me feel like I was able to tag along with you and Maureen to the quaint village. Enjoy the readings and laugh at the antics of the animals. I could picture the geese and hear their call as the flew overhead. I know your reading had to be wonderful.

    Regards
    Patricia

    • Thanks Pat, it’s always so good to hear from you.

      Yes, the Poetry Weekend was a truly joyful and inspiring experience. And what a gorgeous setting was the little town of Callander, deep in Rob Roy country. The original Dr Finlay’s Casebook TV series was made there, with the town renamed “Tannochbrae” on screen.

      Nor did the joy end when the festival closed! We went for a woodland walk to nearby Bracklinn Falls with a lovely lady writer/poet who is a close friend of Maureen’s then spent a couple of days at her home near Edinburgh and had a thoroughly delightful time. We visited Doune Castle together, a medieval stronghold where Mary, Queen of Scots would sometimes stay, and had a look around Edinburgh with our host acting as guide.

      In short, our time in Scotland was a wonderful holiday.

      All the very best to you Stateside, and fond regards,

      Paul

  2. It was a wonderful weekend, a wonderful celebration of poetry. I have been taking part in this Poetry Scotland, Callander Weekend for many years, but this September in 2015 was I think the most special because, you Paul Beech my partner were there and read your fine poems. Congratulations Paul.

    • Maureen, yes! Such was the wealth of poetry and the spirit of friendship that it was a wonderful weekend indeed. As a newcomer I was blown away. But what made it truly special for me, of course, was having you by my side to share it all with.

      Then, mid-week, there was our drive home and that most fortunate wrong turning that took us through Broughton in Tweeddale, where we had wonderful fish soup in a bistro then walked over the burn, hand in hand, aware that this gorgeous little village would have been so familiar to John Buchan, author of ‘The Thirty-nine Steps’, from his many childhood holidays spent there. It was a magical conclusion to our brief Scottish holiday.

      Paul xxx

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