Cox's Stack, Dundee, Frankenstein, John Quinn, Joseph Lee, Mary Brooksbank, Mary Shelley, poetry, Seagate 111, William McGonagall, Writers, writing
It’s an anthology of poetry from in and around the City of Dundee in the early 21st Century –‘a cast of voices who speak for and about Dundee in poetic terms’.
This is no longer the Dundee of the Jute Mills – it is the Dundee of the V&A on the Waterfront (without forgetting the struggles of the past and the poverty which still stalks) The anthology expands on earlier anthologies Seagate and Seagate II and Whaleback City which was inspired by the city its history its architecture and its landscape and its people.
Times being hard and poetry sometimes being a difficult sell it has taken poet Andy Jackson the Editor a couple of years to get off the ground. In the 20th Century Dundee’s poetic and literary reputation was overshadowed somewhat by the ghost of McGonagall.
But scratch below the surface and we can boast Mary Shelley having lived worked and conceived Frankenstein here,
War Poet and Fighter Writer Joseph Lee judged on a par with Owen and Sassoon, The Republic of Letters in the 19th Century the poetry and songs of Socialist icon Mary Brooksbank and more recently the work in word and song of Michael Marra two distinguished Professors of Poetry in WN Herbert and Don Paterson. AL Kennedy anyone? Then there’s prize winning poet John Glenday, Ellie McDonald Street Poets Gary Robertson and Mark Thomson. There’s the comic genius of DC Thomson’s Dudley Watkins creator of Oor Wullie Desperate Dan etc and contributors to human happiness thereby. And you’re still at the tip of the iceberg! Hence I’m honoured to be in this company. The Official launch where I’ve been asked to read along with other poets takes place at the burgeoning Dundee literary festival in October. The festival this year has drawn Hollywood actor Alan Cumming Poet and former Makar (Scots Poet laureate) Liz Lochead, prize winning author James Kelman and more.
MARY BROOKSBANK– The Jute Mill Song
Michael Marra If Dundee was Africa.
The Seagate is today one of the main thoroughfares in the heart of the city – effectively its first street dating back over a thousand years. The name originally ‘Seagait’ means road to the sea.
A good question. I suspect there is one but that it may be buried away beneath the streets of the City with other hidden history such as that of our hamster forebears! Put it this way – if there isn’t one there should be!
Cox’s Stack is an iconic city landmark today an Italianate campanile chimney towering around three hundred feet above the skyline. It’s in Lochee aka Dundee’s little Ireland and at one time it stood above the largest jute mill in the world when the industry employed near fifty thousand people mostly women and children on what were known as the killing floors. Cox’s is the one chimney left out of over a hundred.
I wanted to write it because it speaks to the history of the City of Dundee and the spirit of innovation and survival which has characterised its people my forebears among them down the centuries.
Urbi et Orbi – the city and the world. At least that’s what I aim for. One of my fellow poets in it Beth McDonough said she thought of me as an ‘urban poet’ which I took as a huge compliment. Edinburgh Glasgow London Rome and York have also inspired me. As does History particularly as a Scot of Irish descent the history of both countries. The first ever poem I wrote was about the battlefield at Prestonpans. I’d gone to the nearby sports centre to watch my daughter in a badminton tournament and at the break I went for a walk and was struck by the juxtaposition of past and present.
The Battle of Prestonpans was the first significant conflict in the Jacobite Rising of 1745. which ended at Culloden in 1746
A man more sinned against than sinning. Scratch beneath the cliché about ‘best writer of bad poetry’ and you might be surprised. He was probably autistic and he may have been playing the ‘daft laddie’. In addition he has stood the ultimate test – that of time. WN Herbert Dundee’s makar(official poet) a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing at Newcastle University described him as a ‘journalist’ with an amazing ‘ability to be inspired by absolutely everything’. That said some of his rhyme and meter would give you a migraine!
Not one – unsurprisingly I’m particularly fond of some of the greats in the canon – Yeats, T.S.Eliot, Dylan Thomas and John Donne. And Bob Dylan. I’m also partial to Seamus Heaney and Gerard Manley Hopkins.
I’ve written a play about the jute story – ‘O Halflins an Hecklers an Weavers an Weemin’. We’re planning to stage it in the High Mill at Verdant Works Museum Dundee next year. There are some poems in the pipeline on different subjects – I’ve just had three accepted for the Hampden Park Football Museum Memories’ Project in conjunction with Alzheimer’s Scotland. And I’ve written a modern historical novel about a Dundonian in Edinburgh in the politically turbulent Scotland of the early 1970s (UCS work-in/Miners’ Strike/Bloody Sunday etc). He meets a beautiful English girl who reminds him of Maddy Prior lead singer of Steeleye Span. They make a date for during the blackout in a Catholic Teachers’ Training College/Convent but instead he meets an Irish girl. When he sees her in trouble at a protest march about Bloody Sunday he goes to help and it complicates from there…so I may have some edits to do soon. It’s called ‘The Eyes of Grace O’Malley’.
An EXTRACT from Cox’s Stack by John Quinn part of the Seagate 3 Anthology.
A Scottish ex-English Teacher of Irish extraction. Tour Guide at Scotland’s Jute Museum Verdant Works Dundee, John has had work published in ‘Poet and Geek’ ‘South Bank Magazine’ ‘Poetry Scotland’ ‘Dundee Writes’ and ‘Then Dawn Treader’, not to mention Seagate 3.
Definitely – even Shey couldn’t make that up!