Wednesday, 18 May 2011


Yesterday I went from the literal to the lovelier littoral, bending, picking, swilling about in the warming shallows. A pair of loons (I think) barked on the water and the eiders and skylarks lightened my mood after the morning's work on the novel, which was grisly and effortful. I gave up after a while to open Bull of the Woods – The Gordon Gibson Story. Gibson grew up making a tough living from lumber and later shipping on the West Coast of B.C. in the 20s and 30s. He can hardly get through a page without a reference to his interest in 'the ladies'. He's continually hopping in and out of windows and letting himself into hotel rooms: 'I crept along the hall and picked a door that seemed about right [...] crawling on my hands and knees over to the bed, I felt about the covers to make my presence known to the young lady.'

The winkles on the rocky bottom here were caked in a Battenberg-pink coral or sponge and I saw more of those animals that are like transparent potatoes. Does anybody know what they are? Broken shells of smislins and spoots, but no sign of siphons. Yearning for a new language for the draining meadows coming firm underfoot, the distended hill, the time of butterwort (penny-girse) and royal blue milkwort; tirricks, geese and shalder. That yearning is the place from which poems have so often started for me but I'm still pretty self-conscious. In the meantime I sorted out some things that have been troubling me about the novel, in my head, at least, which doesn't mean all that much. Guddling in the chiffons of algal bloom: "you're asking too much of the narrative to try and set the action in a space of three winter months; it might not work to relegate so much history to the back-story."

I'm working on too many different things at once, again, I think. In the last two days I've worked at novel, welk-ebb, poetry; then there's been mentoring, plans for woven baskets made from bruck materials, sequinned (I think) with with plastics reclaimed from the sea and hole-punched. I might make Greenlandic/Danish sequins from that shipping ticket, too, or opercula of (poor old) winkles. I'm looking forward to picking up a batch of the bisque-fired porcelain limpets today too. I feel like a prism, splitting the light. But what else can you do with so much light?

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