Renfrewshire Council

Musings of the Tannahill Makar: How Poets See The World

This is a little advance taster of a forthcoming attraction that will be part of the Paisley Book Festival 2021.

The theme for this year's festival is Radical New Futures and you can join me for an hour of readings from Paisley connected poets, sharing their visions of the world and making some projections for its future.

The event is free and you can book tickets here - Paisley Book Festival.

How Poets See the World with Brian Whittingham
Featuring Jim Ferguson, Sean McMenemy, Basia Palka and Kay Metcalfe
Monday 22 February 5pm


Into the conch of your ear 
I will whisper yours 

wait until the priest with his purple stole 
anoints with prayers and balsam  
slips away like a thief in the night 

then I can tell you 

how winter is reluctant to leave 
April to the trust of spring 
snow still cross-hatches beyond 
the hospice window 
a trace of silver rimes 
the pale egg shell sky 

now the sun ebbs steadily 
to the edge of the horizon 
marbling the clouds 
with shades of rose and gold 

until it purples to the deep navy 
of those biblical scenes 
where the Magi travel 
across a darkening desert 

they are waiting there 
those wise men 
where the dark meets the dawn.


The writing of a poem should be
A sacred act,
Performed infrequently,
Under the most unusual circumstnces.
It should only be done
when you are able to strip yourself
To the bare essence of being.
To that which is beyond matter.
Only in that other place
Where the chandeliers are made of dew drops
And the vagabond is the prince.
In that space of no confusion
Lies the truth of a poem.
Write it quickly
without thinking,
for in a moment
you'll return to the mundane madness
of everyday life
and the sacred once more
shall be hidden.

WATCHIN THE WORKIES by Brian Whittingham

A young woman sits
on a pavement corner at Dorset St.

She sits Padmasana; the Lotus pose,
cross-legged in yoga speak,
with ease, a young girl nestled between her legs
as if a chick snuggling under her mother's protective wing.

They both look intently
at the workies across the road
prepare for their day.

These yellow jacketed red hatted men
waking up their diggers, tractors and road-roller
pouring hot tarmacadam like dripping treacle,
it's steam kissing the morning air.

The woman and the girl watch
as if sitting in the best seat in the house!


Published 10 February 2021