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Callander Poetry Weekend 2017

September 10, 2017

Gosh, all those motorway services!

Owing to various delays, we were late setting off on the Friday, much too late with around 300 miles to cover. I’m never good behind the wheel when tired, so we had to break our overnight journey for essential refreshment at practically every other services along our northbound route, finally arriving in Callander, Scotland, “the Gateway to the Highlands”, at six o’clock on the Saturday morning, a thin mist hazing the deserted streets of this lovely little town and the slopes of Ben Ledi beyond.

Huge relief! We’d made it!  We were here for the Callander Poetry Weekend 2017, Days 2 and 3.  The proprietor of our guest house kindly admitted us despite the early hour, and after a short sleep and quick breakfast, Maureen and I were off to the Kirk Hall, where the day’s readings were about to begin.

And what a rich and varied feast of poetry it was. We greatly enjoyed the ‘Fierce Poetry in Motion’ poem-films presented by Lesley Traynor and Janet Crawford, especially Angela Hughes’ poem that began, “The heart that beats within me is not the one I was born with…”  Also the musical interlude during the afternoon session with the Tone Poets on mandolin and guitar.  This opened, much to Maureen’s delight, with ‘The Moorlough Shore’, the traditional Irish air which the great W.B.Yeats’ poem ‘Down by the Sally Gardens’ was set to.

Maureen read a number of her poems, a great set, concluding with our joint Somonka, which I joined her at the lectern for, stooping to her microphone to read my part.

Later Sheila Wakefield of Red Squirrel Press gave Maureen the anxiously awaited news that yes, her manuscript of short poems was accepted for publication as a pamphlet, though it could be up to three years yet. And we were overjoyed: Maureen Weldon was now a “Squirrel” in waiting!

Leaving the Kirk Hall, we joined up with Gerald England for a bite to eat in a café. Gerald is an old friend of Maureen’s, whom I was delighted to meet for the first time as his book The Art of Haiku 2000 had really shown me the way with traditional Japanese-style poetry.  After a good chat the three of us headed over to King’s Bookshop for the evening session, which I was due to read at.  My set comprised four poems from my debut collection Twin Dakotas (Cestrian Press, 2016) followed by three newer, Japanese-style poems.  And I marvelled yet again at how good it felt to take part in this wonderful poetry weekend.

On the Sunday morning, in the Friendship Garden, Maureen gave a half-hour talk, with poetry, about ballet in Ireland, focussing on her own career as a professional dancer with the Irish Theatre Ballet under Ireland’s First Lady of Dance, the legendary Joan Denise Moriarty (1912 – 1992). And what an amazing, inspiring talk it was.  She concluded by demonstrating ballet exercises and a gasp went around the garden when she did the splits in the gravel wearing Doc Martens.  Maureen’s talk and demonstration will surely be long remembered by all present, and I’m certain of this: that Miss Moriarty would have been proud of her.

Further terrific readings followed through the day. And huge thanks are due to our hosts Sally Evans and husband Ian at King’s Bookshop for their generosity and tireless efforts in making this a most brilliant Callander Poetry Weekend.



from all points come,

more new faces this year,

an old friend back and loving it:

pure gold.


Paul Beech

Copyright © Paul Beech 2017




From → General, Poetry, Reviews

  1. Sounds like you guys really enjoyed the festivities and soaking in the beautiful poetry – not to mention your own special readings. Wonderful read Paul – my best to you and Maureen.

    • Thank you, Mary, so good to hear from you again. Yes, Callander is very special – the poetry, of course, but the air of friendship and fraternity too.

      Afterwards, we spent two nights with a dear poet friend who lives near Edinburgh and greatly enjoyed a couple of runs out with her. Saw the Kelpies, the giant horse-head sculptures in Falkirk. And visited Leith, Edinburgh’s old dockland area (where ‘McLevy’, the Radio 4 Victorian mystery series is set), then continued down the southern coast of the Firth of Forth to Cockenzie and Port Seton, where we had fish and chips near a small fishing harbour as the sun was setting over the estuary – wonderful!

      Fond regards from Paul

      Maureen sends best wishes too

      • Sounds like a wonderful visit Paul. You both must have thoroughly enjoyed yourselves. Have a wonderful weekend.

  2. Thanks Mary. I was just thinking…if only you could have seen the fishing harbour at Port Seton by sunset. You’d have loved it, and what a wonderful painting you might have produced. Oh well, I shall be checking your blog eagerly to see what emerges from your palette next.

    Wishing you a very happy Sunday,
    Fond regards,


  3. maureen Weldon permalink

    Yes we had a wonderful Poetry Scotland, Poetry Callander Weekend. Thanks to Sally Evans Editor of Poetry Scotland and Ian King her Husband. The weekend was a feast of amazing poetry of a very high standard, friendship and music, and for me having my Paul by my side. I was so proud of him as he gave his poetry reading. For me giving my half hour talk “Ballet In Ireland” was very special as this was a talk about a great lady J.D. Moriarty who brought ballet to Ireland and formed the first professional ballet company Irish Theatre Ballet of which I had the great good fortune to dance with. However it was Paul who made the Callander Weekend happy and special for me.

    Maureen xx

    • Thank you, my darling Maureen. I’m still buzzing with it all, such a great Poetry Weekend it was. So many brilliant readings, and music too. But your ballet talk and demonstration in the Friendship Garden was something truly special, and I’ll never forget how you were accompanied by a sweet-singing blackbird high in a tall tree. I was so proud of you.

      Then there was our wonderful time later with M… Bonnybridge, supposedly Scotland’s top UFO hotspot, where we called at a supermarket en route to the Kelpies without encountering a single alien in the rain. And the following day, Leith, Cockenzie, Port Seton…

      And through the whole of our time north of the border, as always, the joy was in having your hand in mine.

      Paul xxx

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