Tag Archives: Judith Taylor

Starting out at Coupar Angus … and ending up …?

9 Jul
Judith Taylor by Helena Fornells Nadal

Judith Taylor by Helena Fornells Nadal


We launched our Mapping Scotland in Poetry project at StAnza with a splendid array of poems, of which the final poem was Judith Taylor’s wonderful homage to her home town. Our previous post on this topic (which you can see below) picked up the baton to continue our own particular poetic tour of Scotland, so it feels only appropriate that we should start with Judith’s poem, which we have learned she wrote specially for the project. For which our thanks!  Who knows where we’ll end up by the time this project is finalised, but we know exactly where we’re starting from.

So here it is. Do let us have your comments on your own memories of Coupar Angus, and even/or a suitable photograph. And keep the other poems coming in!  More details on that at https://stanzapoetry.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/mapping-scotland-in-poetry/


Moments in the Great History of Coupar Angus

William Wallace passed this way,
didn’t stop. Mary Queen of Scots stopped
but that’s not much to sing of
she stopped everywhere. And the Duke of Cumberland…

is an embarrassment.
We were please enough to see him at the time
but now we’d like to think that we were
sympathetic to the Highlanders
before they were defeated and Romantic

so we don’t mention him
and there’s another story (totally fictitious)
that says we also had a visit from the Bonny Prince.

But our closest brush with history
was in 1917.
There’s even a postcard of the aftermath:

the South Lodge at Keithick, on the Perth Road
the keeper and his wife
posed self-consciously on the doorstep
and a passing motorist, roped in to add

– well, who knows what he was supposed to add
but there he is, parked
right in the road
for as long as it took to get the picture

and none of them are looking at its focus.
That black hole in the roof, above the door

punched by a piece of stone the size of a human fist
the biggest fragment of the meteorite
that went to pieces (so we say)
when it realised it might end up in Coupar Angus…

really, though, it scattershotted all Strathmore
from Forfar to Collace.
Our one and only claim to distinction is
this visible piece of damage

and look again at the photograph:
it’s faked. The hole’s been scratched in on the negative.
It was February. Bitter weather.
1917, when folk had other things to think about

and who would wait around with a holey roof
for the photographer from Valentine’s?
It was mended when he got there
so he improvised.

I doubt if anyone minded.
There are lots of disaster postcards:
in the ones of burning buildings you can see
the strokes of the pen that drew the flames in.

Anyway, this was Perthshire. We invented
selling history to the tourists.
We gave the world at least two (probably more)
phoney Stones of Destiny.

Why shouldn’t Coupar Angus
have something to show for how close
disaster came?
We could have been a contender:
Scotland’s very own Tunguska.

Instead, we’re here
going about our business much as usual
only a little bit resentful when we think of how
history passed us by.


Judith Taylor
written for A Poetry Tour of Scotland
StAnza Festival, St Andrews
9th March 2014


Mapping Scotland in Poetry

4 Jul
Colin Will as host: photograph by Helena Fornells Nadad

Colin Will as host: photograph by Helena Fornells Nadad

We all know poems about Scotland but can the shape and nature of Scotland be drawn entirely in poetry? StAnza has set itself the challenge to see if this is the case. This year at StAnza 2014 we launched our project for the Year of Homecoming Scotland to map Scotland in Poetry. It began with a great fanfare, and unveiled at the event was our specially designed extremely non-digital map to serve our purpose.

Colin with the map, Lindsay Macgregor with the poem: photo by Helena Fornells Nadal

Colin with the map, Lindsay Macgregor with the poem: photo by Helena Fornells Nadal

The launch was an open event so before the festival we invited people to contact us proposing poems which had a specific Scottish location. We had a fine response from a wide range of people offering to read either one of their own poems, or a poem by a friend, or occasionally an older poem out of copyright, so we were spoiled for choice.

On the day, Colin Will and Andy Jackson delivered a wonderful double act hosting the event with wit and charm, Andy taking care of introductions and Colin in charge of the map pins. Surprise contributions included an appearance by Fife’s Provost, Jim Leishman, resplendent in his chains of office, who read one of his own poems set in Glasgow, and two digital contributions Skyped in from a couple of faces familiar to StAnza regulars, at the end of an internet connection in Ross-shire and Assynt.

Mandy Haggith: photo by Helena Fornells Nadal

Mandy Haggith: photo by Helena Fornells Nadal

Other readers included some of this year’s festival participants, some of the StAnza team, and a host of other poets. Judith Taylor brought the launch to an upbeat conclusion with a poetic tribute to her home town, “Moments in the Great History of Coupar Angus”.

Judith Taylor: photo by Helena Fornells Nadal

Judith Taylor: photo by Helena Fornells Nadal

Others who read include: Nalini Paul, Eveline Pye, Ian Blyth, Peter Jarvis, Angela Topping, Lindsay Macgregor, Lorna Carruth, Diana Lewis, Ellen McAteer, Lyn Moir, Mandy Haggith and Roderick Manson.

And now it’s time to continue the mapping exercise. We invite submissions of poems which have a specific Scottish location, whether named in the poem or not, and we’ll post a selection of these on our Blog and place a pin for each of them on our map. We hope eventually to have a map completely covered in pins from coast to coast, from north to south, east to west, highlands, borders, towns, cities, villages, mountains, lochs and rivers, beaches, firths and islands, rocks and reservoirs. If you’d like to contribute to this project, here are the details.

Please email us a copy of your proposed poem with a note of its location with enough detail on that for us to pin it on the map, and the name of the poet. In your email please confirm either that it is your own poem and you grant us permission to post it on this Blog, or that you have permission from the poet or publisher, or that the poem is out of copyright (copyright lasts until 70 years after the poet’s death, or the date of first publication of the poem, whichever is the later).

And at the end of the project, we’ll publish a full list of the poems submitted and photographs of the full map. At least we hope it will be a full map, but we need your help with that. So please send your poems to info@stanzapoetry.org, preferably pasted into the body of your email, and at this stage, no more than one poem per poet/submission, thanks.

Fife in festival mood again

8 Aug



If Fife is the festival kingdom, then this week it’s the turn of Pittenweem Arts Festival which opened on Friday and runs until Sunday 15th August. Often referred to as Scotland’s St Ives, with a wheen of resident artists and plenty of galleries, as well as a working harbour, Pittenweem is always worth a visit, especially during the annual festival. Almost 100 exhibitions are on offer, many squeezed into – or stretched out in – sheds, garages, quaint old converted fishermen’s cottages, net lofts and outdoors in gardens and on the harbour. It was sunny enough today but there was a breeze off the Forth to keep things fresh, despite the crowds, and even if you’re not likely to be purchasing the art, it’s fun going in and out and around all the houses.

House converted for the duration into a gallery.

As well as the exhibitions, they have a programme of events, including on Thursday at 7.30pm, a Poetry Cafe night featuring Judith Taylor who took part at StAnza last year, and other poets from the North East of Scotland. Admission is £8.00 and tickets are available from the festival box office in Pittenweem. And on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 2.00pm, there’s a Storytelling Cycle performed by StAnza’s John J. Taylor, in association with Theatre Odyssey, in the atmospheric St Fillan’s Cave.

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