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  • Writer's pictureJohn Dempster

A great open mic


The Open Mic on Tuesday, 18  June was a wonderful evening, with about 24 people attending in person, of whom 12 read, and Drew Hillier chaired. We heard lots of great writing, and enjoyed the opportunity of catching up with each other’s news.


We began with a tribute to our late Treasurer and Chair, Mark Williams from Marina Gertsen. Marina shared her personal experience of coming to HighlandLIT meetings and finding Mark ‘so welcoming and encouraging’. She concluded by reminding us ‘what a remarkable community Mark has built up here’.


We heard from the poets:  Morag Forsyth read ‘It’s all talk’. It describes the many voices clamouring for our attention, while pointing out how rarely we take heed to the ‘sane voices’ which lead us ‘to solutions, to the light.’  She followed this with a poem about the wondrous silence of nature in ‘Culbin Forest bothy.'


Lilian Ross read a poem and then a piece of prose in Doric, inviting those of us unfamiliar with the Doric tongue to ‘Adjust yer lugs!’ before she read.  The prose piece (‘Chance taken’) detailed a journey through central Aberdeen to the Ferryhill area, where the speaker describes spotting once again ‘that man’ whom she’s seen in the area before. She asks him a potentially life-changing question...


Marine Gertsen read two short, wonderful poems, ‘Boats’ and ‘Stream exploring personal identity from the point of view of someone who has moved a lot over the years.


Andrew Dawson  read (and sang)  an amusing poem, ‘The Lighthouse Keeper’s Bicycle’ – about a wily lighthouse keeper, the local pub, and not one but two ghosts – and of course that bicycle. The poem was by William Bealby Wright, and was written for a band with the wonderful name Doggerel Bank.


We heard from David Goldie a, deeply-thought reflection on Japan in the light of a visit to the tomb of Gamo Kunpei.


This was followed by two great poems by Colm Black – ‘Raining poetry in Costa’, and before it  a recent poem inspired by a visit to the 19th century St Theresa’s home church in Lisieux. It combined a memory of a teenage crush on a girl seen unreachably across a church nave with the determination of St Theresa to follow Jesus only.


Timski shared a wonderfully characteristic piece of writing, imagining the emergence of the earth from its very beginnings until 2024 taking place in one 24-hour span. Humanity appears in the dying seconds. ‘4 billion years in a day.’ And are we earth’s nemesis, or will a new day dawn for the world?


But we also heard prose pieces. Caroline Robertson’s writing has a quirky, unique edge to it as demonstrated in ‘The foundling’ with its devastating last line, and ‘A curve of silver in his beak.’


Malcolm Timperley shared two pieces of writing – a brilliant political satire about a man going to a mobile phone shop wanted to ‘change his mind’, to switch to ‘a modern mind that does the basics.’ The offerings available include ‘The Dialectica’, a Marxist mind, ‘The Conservative Mind’, or ‘The UKIP’ a ‘second-hand conservative mind.’ Quite hilarious. And Malcolm later had us all on edge with one of his macabre tales of the supernatural.


We heard another story from Iris Perrin’s collection ‘Wee stories by Iris’, about mysterious deaths on  an island, and the possible consequences of setting foot thereupon….  And S.J. Groenewegen took us a century into the future, a century in which the world has been riven by war  with another chapter from their forthcoming novel ‘Armistice’.


Beth Jordan introduced us to her novel ‘Thank you for the kiss, ’ reading from the introduction.  ‘In  the intoxicating world of Cuba, warrior queen Gina embarks on a journey from lost soul to cultural awakening—one paved with grief, deception, and the struggle to recreate her identity.’


Thank you so much to everyone who came along and shared their writing.  At the August meeting, we’re planning to do it all again – with a difference in that Paul Shanks will set a subject for us to write about, and, drawing upon his considerable literary experience and sensitivity, offer constructive feedback, hints and tips.

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