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Poetic Adventures in Scotland with Seventy Selected Poems

Poetic Adventures in Scotland with Seventy Selected Poems

Sally Evans and diehard poetry press

 

Like all the best old stories this one starts in a traditional manner: ‘This story really begins with the Sandy Bells. My then husband moved us to Edinburgh for a job in the University buildings in the lane behind this pub, where the taxi disgorged us on my first arrival in Edinburgh’.

This is a magnetic story of being ‘mesmerised by the company of a group of Scottish poets who largely revolved round the Sandy Bells’. As Hamish Henderson’s biographer, Timothy Neat, was to put it ‘Sandy’s now became the gathering place for folksingers, musicians and a fair proportion of Edinburgh’s more radical thinkers’ and by the mid-1950s the pub was widely recognised as the hub of the Scottish Folk Revival. It was frequented by Alexander Trocchi, Billy Connolly, Alasdair Gray, Liz Lochhead, Bruce Chatwin, Gordon Brown, Iain Banks, Ian Rankin and, of course, Sally Evans.

 

The life history of Sally Evans is punctuated with poems and publications and she recalls her first printing in ‘a spiral-bound booklet and a School of Poets card’:

 

‘I helped produce a whole series of these cards by different beginners, which seemed to validate mine, in the same way that publishing other people’s books and poems validates my doing my own’.

 

This autobiographical record which Sally has produced, published by her own diehard press, is a sheer delight to read and should be on the list for every young poet who wants to feel some increasing confidence concerning what they most want to do. It is uplifting! I was delighted at one point to read that some of her poems were published by Tony Lewis-Jones’s Firewater Press in Bristol. Tony, a former pupil of mine from the 1970s, is one of the major promoters of poetic activity in the Bristol area and it is absolutely appropriate that he should be recognised in Sally’s book which, after all, charts the world of the non-mainstream publishing venture.

Sally’s own poems are scattered like rich seed throughout the volume and perhaps the best quick taste is to read the closing lines of ‘Villanelle’:

 

I ran through groves of oranges and limes.

I ran by rivers to the ocean.

Now I have nothing but my singing rhymes.

 

Up, up beyond where vegetation climbs,

down, down till there was nowhere else to run,

I ran away from him too many times.

Now I have nothing but my singing rhymes.

 

To buy a copy of these poetic adventures contact Sally Evans at

 

diehard at the Callender Press, 91-93 Main Street, Callander, FK17 8BQ

 

Ian Brinton 7th May 2014.

 

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