Peat Smoke and Poetry


I’ve decided to use my Team Effort time to develop my poetry. Not something I thought I’d be saying, but for a while, me being a ‘poet’ has been somewhat problematic. I feel like I exist outside of the poetry scene in Glasgow even though I’ve taken part in slams and performed at many a spoken word night. But at the same time I feel that my performance work draws on aspects of poetry as well as encapsulating many other elements of performance, including monologue, stand up and text that may go beyond the idea of poetry.

But I thought I’d go to that place of defining myself as a poet for the year and see what happens. I’ve been interested in the idea of alcohol for a while now, and I want to see how that ties in with other themes I’ve been exploring such as the City, masculinity, Scottish identity, religion and dialect.

I was encouraged to think about research and places I could visit that would help me in developing my ideas. I thought of exploring Scotland, drinking my way around the country. That was a bit ambitious so instead I settled for a trip to Islay to research whisky. Nice work if you can get it, eh?

During my time there I visited a few distilleries, and asked questions about the impact of alcohol on the island (the island has nine functioning distilleries). There has been a difficult history with the relationship to alcohol, and it has divided the opinion of the islanders over the years. This resulted in a few temperance hotels (hotels with no alcohol) to appear on the island, and the idea of temperance in general of interest. On the back of creating my latest performance, Theology, I like the idea that you can become purer through avoiding temptation. I have been reading a lot form the Book of Revelation, and enjoy the idea that we will all be punished and judged at the end of days. I have been thinking about the effects of alcohol, of being completely imbued, of having visions and speaking in tongues, and it reminds me of this:

The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly, festering sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.

I think I’ll call this new collection The Mark of the Beast.

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