Scottish Writers' Centre Blog

The Scottish Writers' Centre is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, number SC040823.

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International Women’s Day Poetry Book Launch Update

The launch in March went very well and several people asked to see the poem ‘Signalling’ by Amy Anderson and A C Clarke posted on our blog, so here it is. The poem, conceived as a dialogue between a younger and an older woman, is a joint production by Amy Anderson (who poses the questions) and A C Clarke, who offers the answers.


Knowing when the clouds will greet their soft welcome

Knowing is for the young.  I know only

that rain, lashing rain, with an ice in its heart

storms out of the blue, that I cannot tell

where sunlight will strike.

How to make the sun a compass

Getting lost, an art I’ve never mastered,

goes beyond pointers:  sun, moon, stars.

Getting lost means having the nerve

to walk in circles, backwards,

over the edge. Trusting.

How to tell vision from illusion

Don’t try. Who knows

if the mad prophet’s beard

streams in the wind of his babble

or blown by the breath of the spirit?

Put out your hand to the dark.

How to read what is behind the mist

Behind-the-mist looms larger

than the patch of light we move in,

assumes the shape of dragon

or insurmountable cliff. There is no

looking ahead, only a path

you happen to take, finding later

the words to make it fit.

Knowing when to let the river carry away cherished things

Rinse your hands and watch the water

swirl your old skin away.

You do not step in the same hour twice

and all those things you carry at your heart

change with your blood.

Knowing when I should be still

I’d take lessons from a cat

which gives itself to sleep

with its whole being

lets itself fall

like a cushion,

at the last moment

brakes on its claws.

To know myself like childhood landscape

Childhood was orangejuice thick and sweet

as medicine, Vick’s vapour rub

stroked on in the light of a coalfire

coupons and everlasting

corned beef: a landscape

that doesn’t change.

I hope I never know my contours

so well I’m never taken by surprise.

To let my dark see the light

My dark sees the light

in the white ghost-shapes of words

poems which are

the other side of the self

slowly developing.

To let words fly away like egrets

would be a grace.

I strain too hard

to cage them.

When the fire in the grate will not flame

Strike matches until a stray spark kindles.

Go for a walk or a sleep and let the fire

light in its own time.

When I am an island on a cold continent

I remember every man (woman too)

is an island. We signal each other

like lighthouses

across acres of dark water,

guessing co-ordinates,  unaware

how close the pattern of our flashes.

When I am finally alone

The world will have ended.

While the world lives

no final,  no alone.

Even if I were barricaded

behind decades of waste

in a single room

part of me would be handed

to the future.



We are pleased to report that our new website has gone live. Same address as before!

Grateful thanks to Claire Quigley for all her hard work on this.

Thanks also to all who came along to the CCA on Thursday for Donal McLaughlin’s reading from his translations of Stella Rotenberg and Herta Mueller – as well as from his recent book, an allergic reaction to national anthems & other stories. It was good to see the place looking so busy – and we hope that the events planned for the months ahead will prove equally attractive and enjoyable.

Do keep an eye on our new website!

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