Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Mr MacCaig Came To Stirling

When I was the Scottish Arts Council writer-in-residence in Stirling, I invited Norman MacCaig to do a reading at the town's Central Library. The event was a great success and I later wrote a poem about it.

Here is his letter of acceptance (stressing that he hates being photographed):

And here's my poem about the reading (January 1991) and our journey back to Edinburgh:
Mr MacCaig Came To Stirling 
I was the would-be entrepreneur; he
without doubt, the star. Unfolding, he smoked
below my big No Smoking sign. Then
dragging a leg, he faced his crowd. A joke
as dry as finest malt, then Mr MacCaig
was away, off through a world of short walks
that ended with long conclusions; then sheep
and stone; mortality; and trains. He talked
a complete hour, with measured words,
quick gleams and perfect pauses. In his streets
and hills, we saw with his eyes, knew Scotland
and eternity. He even stood to treat
us all with Hints About His Writing.
How long did he take to make a poem?
He answered well, but didn't tell. Some folk
called him Norman, as though they were at home
with an uncle or old pal. And the stags
stood quiet by the birch wood, while the white horse
bared its teeth at the wind. Later, I sped
through the night with Mr MacCaig. The view
from the train was ourselves: me, and his long head
smoking and talking, through Larbert, Falkirk,
Linlithgow. Until he started to sing
to me, as though he'd know me forever -
but Norman could sing for almost anyone.
The train rolled on; it slid into our station.
Shutters were shut; the clock's hands close to midnight;
but frosted pavements shone like constellations.
Published in WILL I EVER GET TO MINSK? (HappenStance, 2012),
THE SCOTSMAN (1999),   
THE HERALD (1997).
First Prize in the UK section of the Scottish International Poetry
Competition (1996).

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


A change of broadband supplier, from TalkTalk to SSE, left us without a service and a router from  15th February until 27th February. It was a long, complicated and frustrating tale, and was summarised by Jill Insley in the Sunday Times on 10th March.
There was an accompanying cartoon. I'm not too sure, though, that it look me. Anyway, here it is, with more details.


Monday, March 4, 2019

The Gospel Truth

Towards the end of 2018, I revised a short poem I'd written in January 1985. The poem has just been published in the online magazine, London Grip.
It can be read at


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

After The Readings

Fine words are spoken on friendship and love
then the poets retire to the bar; pints
appear and, in the gloom, the whole wide world
is put to rights (at least in their own minds).
That bastard's been bought up by Bloodaxe Books
and so-and-so's new volume is vile! Yes, sonnets
are back, the money's no good, and should
they have just one more drink? And The Scotsman,
they're sure, has gone down the pan; yes, peanuts
are fine, how's your glass? And as the clock ticks
on and on, a woman sits and stares. 'See
you,' she cries, Greek-chorus-like: 'You all talk shit.'
It's late and it's cold, there are hills to climb;
through moonlit streets, the poets sway, in time.

First published in '14' magazine,
then in Northwords Now
and in Come Close And Listen
(Greenwich Exchange).


Tuesday, February 19, 2019


Sunday's the day we wash the car.
We make it glow but don't go far
as we need our time for indoor games
and straightening all the picture frames.
The golliwog loves to laze in his cot
while I scour the attic (there might be rot).
You polish the cutlery, shine the taps,
then fetch the box of liquorice straps.
I rinse and buff the window glass
while you kill moss and trim the grass.
At last it's evening, we shower together,
admire the tiling, discuss the weather.
We each  have a spoonful of caviar -
then let the tarantulas out of their jar.

by Jim C Wilson.

First published in Orbis magazine,
(Winter 2017).


Full Again (and not with wine)

My Poetry in Practice classes are halfway through the present term. I'm pleased to discover today that the summer term, commencing 17th April, is fully booked (with a waiting list).
I will finish teaching the class at the university in June (after 25 years) but will continue with PiP at the Scottish Poetry Library in September.


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

An Evening In

'Put on some Johnnie Ray,' she said, and ran
her tongue along her lipstick. Ten past ten:
she felt like fun. The sparkling white wine grew
warm in her glass; and there, her fingerprints.
'Just Walking in the Rain,' she said, and lit
one more last cigarette. Candles can make
things romantic, can't they? The shadows move.
Maybe she should close the curtains, stop folk
staring in. And why do those streetlamps have
haloes? Oh, God, she's in love, and has been
for years - the endless romance of it all!
She drinks more wine; surveys the room's expanse.
The teddy bears get ready for the dance.

by Jim C Wilson,
published in The Dark Horse (issue 17)
and Will I Ever Get To Minsk? (HappenStance Press).

Jim C. Wilson  Poet
‘A true poet —