SHIPS – launch day huddle


Saturday was a gala day for the newly formed Scottish Highlands and Islands Poetry Society with successful launches on-line and at Waterstones Inverness. This week has been full of ‘feel good’ satisfaction at two events that both sailed smoothly.

Just as ‘chance favours the prepared mind’ I think any successful endeavour requires a large amount of preparation. For a few hours of launch events there have been months of meetings, virtual gatherings and discussions.

I am by nature and over-preparer. For an hour long workshop I probably have enough material for two hours, for a gathering of half a dozen people I will make sure there are refreshments for at least double.

The consequence? A lot of wasted effort? Not really. Although there are surely some places I could economise, it always seems unwise. I think it’s only the tendency for over-preparedness in the past that gives me the confidence to say yes to new and potentially risky things. I took on this on-line launch after really not expecting to do so at all.  But I have some skills and experience, so why not use them?

But it was more than simply this. There is with this new society a warmth and energy that seems to lift and carry rather than drain and burden. The weight is easy, the burden is light.

There are poets, like polar bears, roaming in ones and twos around the highlands and islands with a desire for more togetherness, for sharing and creativity. To find a creative tribe is a wonderful thing – just to recognise in another a shared sensibility a gift. Of course there may be a multitude of differences, which is still grand, but to find any connection is rare and precious. It is the magic moment when one plus one equals three. It defies the so-called laws of the universe.

During the launch I was surprised how deep it was possible to dive in a 15 minute workshop. This I had really not expected, even with all my preparedness I had not anticipated the experience. It was hard to move back to facilitating the launch from a place of emotion, but I managed. All that experience carried me, and I had something, the ribs of a poem.

This is the thing with poetry, it dives deep and it dives quick. Sharing creative time and space with poets possessing such a wealth of craft was humbling. It is so difficult to protect these moments of vulnerability. But being in this group, and writing together, built for a short while a protective wall where I could shelter.

I like this image. It brings me another polar image, not of white bears, but of the great huddle of penguins that takes place at the opposite pole beneath the aurora australis.

Form a huddle poets! Take a turn, keep warm those within!

Amongst such wirdsmits with many tongues I stitched some rude garments from the zoom chat. They are simple found poems, but I like them very much for all that.

I share them here to celebrate the launch of the Scottish Highlands and Islands Poetry Society and everyone who sails (and huddles) within  it.

Poems from contributions from SHIPS on-line launch attendees
Saturday 18th November, 2023
Casting Off
It’s dreich here
Grey grey grey
Mosach fluich ceothach
Dull dull dull
In France: sunny!
Wild windy wet
Grey sullen in-between
Even more dull
Grey losing identity to greyer
Jealous of your weather
Fuachd Dreich a veiling
Mosach fluich ceothach
Grey grey dull dull
The weather clear and cold

Scottish Highlands and Islands Poetry Society SHIPS

New Moorings
Sun through haar
Airborne vernal growing
Lifting, swirling, clearing
Rising, bubbling excitement.
Sun-splitting, hopeful, trying
Sunny, breezy, warm
Slip, pip, sip.
Sun breaking through
Sunrise, morning dew
Crisp, bright, cool
Sunny, bright and bold
Stirring, bold and heart-warming
Inside outside home

Silent writing
You enter at a set time,
A zoom room
The time set aside
Made holy –
You wish each other well
You see heads down intent
Set to writing….or dreaming
Until the hour is up –
You close the hour knowing
Yes I wrote
I wrote with other writers
And it is a good feeling –

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Gabrielle Barnby