From the Shore: celebrating 20 years of Edinburgh’s Shore Poets

The Shore Poets 20th Anniversary Event was held at the Voodoo Rooms on 13 November 2011, with poetic contributions from Angus Peter Campbell, Ken Cockburn, Brian Johnstone, Stewart Conn, and Nancy Somerville, and music from The Kitchen Stools, Jim Glen, Minnow, and Brighde Caimbeul

Ken’s Diary for the 40th season is here, and so too his compilation of memories, and there are some photos from the night taken by Fin Wycherley.

Honorary President Stewart Conn proposed a toast:

SHORE POETS 20th ANNIVERSARY/A TOAST TO THE FUTURE

As Cole Porter put it, What a swell party it’s been… a piping-hot pot-pourri  tracing Shore Poets’ progress, and ports of call, in a rich blend of poetry and music, reminiscence and anecdote… spiced by Ken’s compilations …  graced by Angus Peter … and flavoured by touching reminders of Gael … and of Mark and the award generously established in his name. Not to mention the legendary lemon-cake. All amply justifying Donny O’Rourke’s claim, “Shore Poets are often copied, never equalled”.  In ice-cream parlance, “Often licked, but never beaten”: fit comment on their dedication, achievements – and survival instinct – over two decades.

Underlying their activities is of course a love of poetry:  look no further than this evening’s programme, its planning typically thorough and democratic: virtues embodied in no-one more than the Shetland lass whose roles range self-effacingly from cajoler and co-ordinator extraordinaire… to round-the-clock taxi-service. and fairy-godmother.  Christine in company with Brian – energetic co-founder and kindler of the flame – and Ian, now benign father-of-the-house  … along with Hugh… Nancy and Angela … MC Jim C, Alison, Diana… and all who have carried the torch merit a hearty round of applause.

The new CD bears tangible witness to the diversity of Shore Poets’ talents, musical  and poetical … the care and nail-biting behind it borne out by an e-mail dossier to put Leakipedia in the shade.  Congratulations to those who worked towards and contributed to it. Especially the indispensable Peter, to whom it clearly proved not just a task to be carried out, sensitively and meticulously … but a labour
of love.

Besides the impact Shore Poets have had, individually, on the wider poetic scene, they are held in high esteem collectively for their comradeship, discernment,  open-mindedness and generosity of spirit.  The  roll-call of those who have performed for them (and are billed for the forthcoming season) is a resounding one.  And I’m far from the only person to have been encouraged and enthused – personally and professionally – by contact with,  and durable friendships established through, members of the Group.

With all of which happily in mind, I invite you who have been entertained and sustained, heartened and inspired by Shore Poets Past and Present … and who see in them a vibrant springboard to the Future  …  to be upstanding, and raise your glasses  … to precisely that: 

  Shore Poets : their Future!


from the shore CD cover (image: James Christie)

At Leith’s Shore Gallery in 1991, Brian Johnstone and Rosalind Brackenbury started a series of poetry readings that has become a landmark in Edinburgh’s cultural landscape. In celebration of the 20th anniversary, the Shore Poets collective invited group members past and present to record this commemorative CD.

The album includes contributions from all the poet members of Shore Poets over the years. Gael Turnbull’s contribution comes from a CD recorded by Peter McCarey in 2003. Sean Belcher and Gavin Jones recorded their contributions locally. All the rest were recorded in May and June 2011 at Mayfield Radio Unit.

Editing & compilation: Peter Cudmore
Design & website: Peter Cudmore & Hugh Dailly
Cover photograph: Antony Gormley at Leith Docks by James Christie

Track listing:

Stewart Conn: Slightly foxed
Minnow: From the Shore (A. Reeves)
Stewart Conn: Close names
Alan Gillis: Graduation Day
Martin MacIntyre: Maryhill Road June 2004
Nancy Somerville: Bucket of frogs
Morelle Smith: Canal Street café
Morelle Smith: Market street, Albania
Brian McCabe: Orraman
Angela McSeveney: Infirmary Street baths
Angela McSeveney: Concerto for the Left Hand
Angela McSeveney: Handprints
Hamish Whyte: A bird in the hand
Hamish Whyte: Dogsitting in Stockbridge
Jim Glen: Excavations
The Kitchen Stools: You asked for it (Dailly/Simpson/Traylor)
Mark Ogle: The backward spring (read by Deborah Mather)
Dougie McKenzie: Nicht thochts
Young Dawkins: Letter to my unborn child
Martin MacIntyre: Fragrant affliction
Jane McKie: Archipelago
Allan Crosbie: Potential
Jim Glen: From the classroom window
Shaun Belcher: Severed tongue
Christine De Luca: A joy ta behold
Morelle Smith: The forgotten cherub
Ken Cockburn: Keys
Gael Turnbull: For us
Diana Hendry: Why it took so long
Diana Hendry: Application
Gael Turnbull: It is not
Hamish Whyte: The great journey
Diana Hendry: Dressing mother
Andrew Philip: Coronach
Minnow: The burning of the piper’s hut, Captain Campbell (Trad.)
Paula Jennings: Argument with the future
Rosalind Brackenbury: Love lines (read by Lilias Fraser)
Jim C. Wilson: Utter
Andrew Philip: The invention of zero
Jane McKie: Converts
Nancy Somerville: Blackburd 4
Gavin Jones: Grey wagtail
Gael Turnbull: A kite
Ian McDonough: Toy farm
Ian McDonough: Rainboy
Brian Johnstone: One for the road
Nancy Somerville: Song of barbed wire
Young Dawkins: The lilac thief
Mark Ogle: English rain (read by Deborah Mather)
Allan Crosbie: The osteopath
Paula Jennings: Driving in autumn
Ken Cockburn: On the flyleaf of a Monograph by Yves Klein
Brian Johnstone: A definition of space
The Kitchen Stools: Lady’s Choice

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