Best Scottish Poems 2007

Carrelet by Gillian Murray

Welcome

This is the fourth issue of Best Scottish Poems, an online selection of twenty of the best poems by Scottish authors to appear in books, pamphlets and literary magazines during 2006-2007.

We publish this selection on St Andrew's Day to wave a poetry flag for Scotland. Bookshops and libraries – with honourable exceptions – often provide a very narrow range of poetry, and Scottish poetry in particular. Best Scottish Poems offers readers in Scotland and abroad a way of sampling poets' range and achievement, their languages, forms, concerns. It is in no sense a competition but a personal choice, and this year's editor, the novelist and poet Alan Spence, has made a choice of poems somehow redolent of the green tea he sipped while choosing them. He follows Hamish Whyte, Richard Price and Janice Galloway in selecting the poems that most appealed to him – their selections for 2004, 2005 and 2006 are still available on this site.

We hope that you enjoy this varied selection, along with the poets' own comments and the editor's, and that it will encourage you to browse further on the site, as well as borrow and buy from the Scottish Poetry Library.

Robyn Marsack
Director

Editor's Introduction

Poetry and Green Tea

Sometimes I really love my work. This past while I've been dropping in to the Scottish Poetry Library to compile this anthology from books and magazines published in the last year. And I have to say the process has been an unremitting joy. I'd turn up and get settled at a corner table. Librarian Julie Johnstone (herself a fine poet, publisher and zen aficionada) would bring me the books I'd asked for that day, together with a cup of green tea, and I'd simply lose myself for a couple of hours. Does life (or work) get any better than this?

If you haven't managed to visit the Library, you should try. It's a particularly accessible resource - while you can access things online, you can also have that old-fashioned pleasure of checking shelves of books and journals to find what you're looking for. Sitting at my corner table felt quite monastic - the atmosphere is tranquil, quiet without being oppressive.

Poetry, I realise, is my first love when it comes to literature. It was what I started writing when I was still in my teens and I still come back to it - little haiku and tanka, marginal notes to myself, which on revisiting seem more than marginal, rather central to my existence, my experience of living in the moment.

The poems I chose, I realise, all have that quality of heightened awareness, a sense of the very life we are living, its sheer miraculousness. Poetry at its best can do that - it's a wake-up call, exhorting us to look and see what's all around us (and within us).

There are old friends here, poets I've been reading for up to thirty or even forty years. But I'm glad to say there are perfect strangers too - writers I hadn't read before, but whose future work I'll seek out eagerly. And my starting-point for these collections-to-come will most likely be the Scottish Poetry Library, a place to restore your soul.

Alan Spence

Cover Artist

Carrelet, by Gillian Murray

Carrelet by Gillian Murray

"These amazing stilt structures support little fishing huts from which a large net hangs down ready to be dipped into the deep sea to catch the fish."

Carrelet is a mixed media print, combining collagraph printing with screenprinting. It has just been exhibited in the '40 Years at Edinburgh Printmakers' show and features in their publication 'Edinburgh Printmakers 40 Years of Original Prints'.

Gillian Murray, born in Perth, Scotland, has been working at Edinburgh Printmakers for over ten years, and currently runs the screenprinting department. This involves working on print projects with a host of local, national and international artists, as well as teaching courses in screenprinting and collagraph printing. She exhibits her work on a regular basis and currently has work in galleries such as the Flat Cat Gallery (Lauder), Cairns Gallery (Peebles), Edinburgh Printmakers and Cone 9 Gallery (North Berwick).

Title: Carrelet
Date: 2006
Image Size: 38 x 57cms
Type: Collagraph & Screenprint

Edition of 12 from the portfolio 'Multiple Surfaces' by Edinburgh Printmakers.

To contact the artist, email gillmurray@hotmail.com

For further information on printmaking, visit www.edinburgh-printmakers.co.uk