Tim Turnbull

Poetry, Stories, Painting

Sick Again Sculpture

Goes Around, Comes Around

Sick Again Sculpture

Last summer we paid another visit to the Corbenic Poetry Path. For those who don’t know, the Path situated at Trochry in the hills above Birnam and Dunkeld. The walk isn’t too strenuous, it winds through glorious countryside and it’s dotted with sculpture/poems maintained by staff and residents at the Corbenic Camphill Community.

I’ve been up there regularly, not only because I have a couple of poems on the path, but for events, to take visitors, and just for a stroll about. This time, though, it was to check a new sculpture by Hungarian artists Vivien Leitart and Krisztina Gyuk, recently erected and taking its cue from one my poems, Sick Again.

Sick Again

You are searching for a missing piece of jigsaw
like a kid that’s lost its mother in the big store
or an apeman who is scratching with a pig jaw
unsure, exactly, what it is you dig for.

Stranded in Sub-Atomica (donut Press, 2005)

This was written a long time ago and don’t recall anything about it’s genesis except that the title came afterwards and was taken from a Led Zeppelin song. I can’t see any connection with said song and in retrospect realise that I’ve never, ever thought about Zeppelin lyrics, they seem so utterly secondary. I suspect I was thinking of the guitar sound or maybe it’s just a good title.

Sick Again Sculpture

Brian McCabe, at a Soutar House group meeting where I shared it, said “Cheer us up, why don’t you, with your ontological meltdown,” or words to that effect, which tickled me.

Anyway, the poem had been up on the path for some time in another form, with the poem on a post (an actual physical post) in a deep hole surrounded by sharpened sticks, as interpreted by Martin Reilly, but John Plunkett, the Aberfeldy/Norn Irish poet said that Vivien and Krisztina were quite taken with it and made this magnificent other piece of art.

Sick Again Sculpture

We visited a couple of days after the piece was installed, which is when I took these photos, and sadly the day after the artists left the country. I’d like to have met them but I hope I’ll run into them when next they’re over. And I’ll probably have another look up the hill in the next few months to see what the weather’s doing to it.

And while we were up there I took some more pictures from the Path, one of which I worked up into a little oil sketch, and which, when posted on Facebook with no context whatsoever, was identified as being at Corbenic by Hazel Cameron. I was quite chuffed with that.

I can’t remember why I wrote the poem in the first place, and given the timing of it, I suspect my head wasn’t in the best place at the time, but then all these little connections spring from it, so I don’t suppose it even matters. Probably nothing does. Ah, you can’t beat a bit of breezy nihilism. Happy New Year.

Oligarch in Speedos

Oh no! Sinister forces are at work: the government has suppressed a report into Russian interference in elections; the major parties and political figures are in hock to international spivs and gangsters. If only someone had written a poem about eight years ago predicting all this and read it out in public at every opportunity and, like, everybody had listened. Oh well. Never mind.

Oligarch in Speedos
On a mega-yacht, no less, brandishing
an innuendoed Möet overflow,
bronzed, with trouty-pouting babes-a-go-go.
Oh, copper-bellied kleptocratic king,
pray budgie-smugly flaunt your bling-a-ling
to advertise what everybody knows, 
you crass comb-over Russo-mafioso,
which is, restraint and taste are not your thing
but, grudgingly, we have to give full marks for
the way you reify consumption, greed,
and keep the groveling poor down on their knees.
Yes, you’re the sort of immigrant we need,
so why not help yourself to half of Berkshire 
and annex sodding Knightsbridge, won’t you, please.

from Avanti! (Red Squirrel Press, 2018)

A Whole New World

Arrival in the Promised Land

Here we go, then. I spent four days last week figuring out how to use the WordPress software to completely rebuild my website. For ten or more years, I’ve cobbled together something from the basic, but elegant, site that A.B. Jackson made for me sometime in the lower Paleozoic era, free versions of blogging and mediating tools, and various desktop WYSIWYG editors. Every time I have tried a revamp before, it starts with good intentions, a determination to make the site easier to use, and a New Yearish resolve to update regularly, but that never happens. There has always been something more pressing to do.

Now, though, I’ve a studio to work in, stable remunerative employment and a list of projects, both writing and painting, to be getting on with, (one of which was sorting this site out); and while refurbishing a website might look like a displacement activity, it does offer– aside from the therapeutic value of twiddling with plug-ins and layouts – an opportunity for reflection. I have stability and that’s to be thankful for in these strange times. And it occurs to me that sitting in rooms out in the sticks working is all well and good, but here’s a tool here to communicate with the outside world, to share some art and talk about it, so why not use it. I hope, therefore, to do this a bit more regularly.

For starters, here’s a watercolour I’ve been working on of the view from my window.

Avanti! T.

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