Yevtushenko

The Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko estimates that 70% of his poetry is crap and the other 30% is okay. Personally, I think if I write one good poem, one good line, or at the very least, one good phrase/image in my lifetime, then I’ll be doing great.

Having said that, I’ve been fortunate to be included in a really interesting writing project called May Day Poetry in which poets have agreed to contribute poems, hot off the keyboard, for the month of May, so anyone interested in seeing early drafts of poetry, click on maydaypoems at the bottom…

Yevtushenko, by the way, was one of the poets who once occupied the big leather wingback in front of Hugh MacDiarmid’s fire – the same leather chair I sat in two weeks ago with the poet Tom Bryan when I visited Brownsbank Cottage in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. I’ve been reading Tom’s Wolf Dream Alba, a long poem for the Millennium, and savouring his description of Yevtushenko’s visit…

I spent a night not long ago
in Brownsbank, where Yevtushenko
entered the blue gate and saw dawn
over the kitchen gean.
Photos, paintings, drawings,
MacDiarmid’s rows of green thrillers,
the fireplace casting shadows.
Russian soul of the place,
deep in the fabric,
flickering to galaxies, spouting, erupting,
flytings, panegyrics.

(with permission) Tom Bryan, from Wolf Alba, a long poem for the Millennium

Nine days to go before the Camino. The paper tide in my office is ebbing and I can see a sandbar of Persian carpet again. Everyone asks if I’m excited about the trek, and I say no, it’ll just happen. Maybe because it is such an undertaking, hiking 750 kms, the enormity of it too hard to digest, I’m just thinking, “one foot in front of the other”. Also, besides the details, I’ve managed to sign myself up for a couple of sets at the benefit and have to memorize a couple of new tunes. How bizarre to be rehearsing after so many years… fun too, to stretch myself vocally, singing a John Mayer tune, Vultures, and being inspired by a Prince cover of A Case of You (brilliant) which I’ll sing with two guitars, a bass and a jazz trumpeter, a Nora Jones tune, Wish I Could, and contemplating a Robert Cray tune with really vicious lyrics, “I want to see you burn/the whole way down/I want to see your ashes/all over the ground”… unrequited love I guess…fun… like putting on a dress no one expects to see me in!

anyway, check out the maydaypoets…

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