‘Nasty Little Words’

Nov.25 2011

Posted by Readers in Residence

Having a lovely time as the Shetland Library’s Reader in Residence, with the first of our weekly new columns appearing in the Shetland Times this week. ‘Readers Recommend’ is all about getting the Shetland community to chat about the books they love and the literature they live by. Unbelievably, the first month is already almost up. I’ve spent it getting to know the library and its staff: haring all around Shetland to the beautiful schools libraries from the North Isles to the South Mainland, getting introduced to lots of new books by folk of all ages, and setting up many of the projects and reading groups that will run for the duration of the residency.

We had our third ‘Poetry For Tea’ session last night. This is an hour devoted to reading poems for pleasure – folk bring along their favourite poems and read them aloud. I’m enjoying keeping a list of what we’re reading, the diversity of which is delicious. One member has been bringing along her own ‘anthology’ – a notebook of her poems that she’s been keeping since the 1940s: a beautiful thing. We advertised the group with a photo of a fish supper, which caught the eye of the ‘The Black Hole’ (comedy and culture on Radio Shetland’s late spot) team, Roberto Getto and Amy Fisher. Beto and Amy came by in the hope of cadging a chip; we had to explain to them the fish supper was largely metaphorical. They took the news well and took part in our session, contributing poems in Spanish and Shetland Dialect to our eclectic set list. Our sessions are rich in strokes of serendipity, of the kind that sees Tom Leonard’s ’100 Differences Between Poetry and Prose’ (from his new ‘Selected Poems’ CD) followed by Basil Bunting’s ‘What the Chairman Said To Tom’. This contains my new favourite quote, which describes poets as ‘reds, addicts, delinquents’ who waste the time they should be spending on real work on ‘nasty little words.’ Excellent!

‘You’re’ – Sylvia Plath
‘Journey of the Magi’ – T.S.Eliot
‘Angle of Vision’ – Robert Rendall
‘Following a Lark’ – George Mackay Brown
an untitled poem by William Blake, from his letter to Thomas Butts
‘Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening’ – Robert Frost
‘The Sterling’ – George S. Peterson
‘The Black Hole’ – Roberto Getto
’100 Differences Between Poetry and Prose’ – Tom Leonard, from his new ‘Selected Poem’ CD
‘What The Chairman Told Tom’ – Basil Bunting
‘The Wild Swans at Coole’ – Yeats
war poems by Krzysztof Kamil Baczyński, in Polish and English

Written by Jen Hadfield