Silence before Speech is a new publication in memory of Neil Christie, a friend who died on Christmas eve three years ago. It’s a boxed set of 16 poem-cards, each featuring a poem by myself or Jane MacKie, and a painting by Dina Campbell. The portfolio was designed by Mary Asiedu.
We all knew Neil; he had a gift for friendship, and for bringing people together. One of his favourite tricks was to arrange a meeting to which he invited people from different parts of his life, and then cry off at the last moment, leaving us to get to know each other.
He worked as a graphic designer, and occasional publisher; Reading the Streets was made for his Duende Press, when he linked myself and illustrator Libby Walker. Latterly he lived down by the river at Cramond, and I’ve fond memories of eating fish soup in his small cottage there, packed with books and CDs, before emerging for a riverside stroll.
Jane and I both wrote to Dina’s images, and their titles. My poems all came out as unpunctuated six-liners; Jane allowed herself more scope, in length and stanza form.
The cards measure 195 x 94 mm. A set costs £15 – please contact me if you’d like to buy a set.
This pamphlet was launched at The Jazz Bar in Edinburgh last week. It’s the first publication by Neil Christie’s Duende Press, and features a sequence of six ‘city’ tanka, and seven haiku about the moon. Neil has produced it as a little concertina, small enough to open to its full extent with a single pair of arms. The poems have been beautifully illustrated by Libby Walker, who graduated from Edinburgh College of Art last year. There’s a continuous and very busy image running through the tanka, and separate, more colourful and abstract images complement the haiku.
You can get hold of a copy – the printed version, or a pdf – from the Duende Press website, and also at the Scottish Poetry Library.
Neil is a fine graphic designer, and I’ve worked with him on several Scottish Poetry Library projects over the years, including the CD The Jewel Box (2000) and the postcard book Poem Prints (2005), but this is the first time I’ve worked on a ‘personal’ project with him. Neil has also designed most of knucker press’s output, and there was a new knucker booklet launched last night as well. How to Wire a Life for Love features Liz Bassett’s astutely observed and finely crafted poems, with illustrations by Angelika Kroeger.