“So whit does a poet in residence do?”

Quite a few friends and family have asked me that in the past weeks, and I didn’t really have an answer.

When I spoke with Eleanor, the director of StAnza, she had some guidance, but there was nothing set in stone. Come. Listen. Learn. Make new pals and connections.



But, ye know, I like tae ‘work’ – or I start feeling a bit guilty or feckless. So, I decided to try and do two things – #poetryatthepool and Stereoscopic Poems.

Poetry at the pool – that’s easy enough. The one time I was in St Andrews before (the wedding of Mìcheal Bauer and Rob Wherret – blessings and best wishes and a thousand thanks to them for giving me the chance to be part of that beautiful day) I noticed the Castle Rock swimming pool. Reading poetry and swimming. I could do that. And, with the help of my mum Penny Cole, I’ve recorded those readings.

The second thing. Well, the last book I wrote – ‘Cailèideascop’ – was partly inspired by the life of Sir David Brewster. He invented the kaleidoscope. And he was the professor of natural philosphy (physics) in St Andrews in the 1840s.

In addition to the kaleidoscope, it was Brewster that first brought photography to Scotland – and at a very early stage. There’s no many folk  that know that people and places from Scotland were among the very first to ever be recorded on a photograph.

Brewster also invented another instrument – the lenticular stereoscope.. It’s an instrument that could look at two photographs through lenses, and then bring them together to show one picture in three dimensions.

So I thought, I’ll do some stereoscopic poems – trying to bring two different things together in order to create a new dimension out of them. A tribute to Brewster. Suitable for my book. Suitable because the festival is in St Andrews.

And the first evening I was here, I heard poetry in Frisian, and I was really struck by the connections between the language and Scots. I felt the words at my core. I nearly understood them. At times, I did.

Anyroad, I sat down and – with help from the internet – I wrote a poem in Frisian and Scots, trying to show how close they are. My new pal  Geart Tigchelaar corrected what I’d done (but he said I’d done a ‘bloody good job’ – how cool is that!) and – here we are friends – my first stereoscopic poem.

Wêrom soe ik it net doare?
Ik ha in memmetaal
en dy taal hat in froen.
Lit my gean dêre, oan har feestmiel
fan wurden waarm en licht,
en lit my my fol ite.
Myn tonge is net swier
gjin bân oer myn mûle –
har wurden smeitsje my goed.
Sâlt fan elke see hat wearde.
For how sad Ah no daur it?
Ah hae a mammietung
an that tung has a freen.
Lee me gang ther, tae her feastmeal
fu wurdies waarm an licht,
an lee me eat ma full.
Ma tung isna sweir
nae band oer ma mou –
her wurdies smak sae guid tae me.
Saut fae ilka sea has worth.

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