>> J.M. Barrie
J.K. Rowling <<
Scotland is a nation with a vivid imagination. It is the birthplace of a string of novelists, poets and playwrights (some of which Scotia Extremis will feature in future months). This week we feature two singular examples of that propensity for the creation of moral fantasies. Kirriemuir-born J.M. Barrie wrote many plays including The Admirable Crichton which picked apart notions of class and masculinity, but his best-known creation was the evergreen ‘fairy play’ Peter Pan. J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter series (written mostly in her time in Edinburgh) brought reading back into fashion for children the world over, her almost-complete imagining of a world of wizards and exotic creatures becoming a literary phenomenon whose success may never be emulated. Several subsequent adult-focused novels followed, with their pseudonymous author ‘Robert Galbraith’ quickly unmasked.
As well as creating two of the most enduring fantasy sagas in children’s literature, the comparison of our twin subjects this week is also evident in their two central characters; Peter Pan, the little boy who never grew up, and Harry Potter, whose growth from human child into man was chronicled through seven books.
by Kevin Cadwallender
J.M. Barrie is sewing a shadow to his heels,
it takes a little while as his fingers are large
and the needle is small.
He tries it out in the temporary sunlight
that has infiltrated the constant rain of Kirrie.
His shadow turns out to be a Calvinist
and walks in irresistible grace beside him
believing him to be far from chosen.
Children gather near the witches stane
and sing in a soft brogue a hymn that
adults are unable to hear.
J.M. Barrie is sewing his brother’s shadow
to his heels in memoria and instead of the first.
His Mother carries her own shadow within.
Skeletal autumn leaves and cobwebs
are making a child between them
and they swirl in his creation
under a hooked moon.
J.M. Barrie finds himself lost.
a white bird guides him
and the second star,
always the second star
leads him astray.
To see (and hear) this poem performed by Kevin Cadwallander click here
by Hazel Buchan Cameron
“how pure, how dear, their dwelling place”
George Gordon, Lord Byron
I thought we were birds of a feather, for a spell.
Single motherhood and dark nights do that.
I almost wrote for help but then held back,
all that hype is not easy to conjure, alone.
Perhaps like Harry, you were a character trick?
Designed – almost noble – ever so slick.
Huffed, you took umbrage at our brazen plans
to strive for better and create new yarns.
You tweeted, ‘I live there,’ but we live here:
amongst fairy stories, legends and myths.
Cafés, culture and grist – never quite bliss.
Gilded thistles used like tawse to clear us.
Scotland: a ‘quad’ for game and tartan treks.
With a stroke of a pen you wrote – a cheque.
A painless option with devastating effect.
I’ll wait; write another letter, another time.
Kevin Cadwallender lives in Edinburgh. He has published Nine collections including Baz Uber Alles (Dogeater), Colouring in Guernica (Red Squirrel Press), Dances with Vowels: Selected Poems (Smokestack) Making Buildings out of Gods and Glue (Red Squirrel Press) and around 30 pamphlets including Baz Poems (Rebel Inc) and Dog Latin (Calder Wood Press). He runs 10RED, a poetry event in Leith, and is a former Scottish Slam Champion and Scottish Editor for Red Squirrel Press.
Hazel Buchan Cameron was born and brought up in Renfrewshire before she moved to Perthshire where she worked as a Farm Secretary across Scotland for 25 years. Hazel is author of five poetry pamphlets including The Currying Shop (2007), a joint winner of the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award in 2008. In 2014 she was the first Writer in Residence for the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. Her book, a memoir, Just Go In was published in September 2015 by Gracenotes Publications and her first full collection of poetry will be published by Red Squirrel Press in September 2016.