Friday, 29 June 2012

Alice, Margaret and Their Rivers

The St Magnus Festival has drawn to a close once more and, yet again, some fabulously talented performers have thrilled, moved and delighted both Orkney dwellers and visitors alike.

The poet Alice Oswald performed her work in both Stromness and Kirkwall and amazed audiences by reciting lengthy selections from several of her collections FROM MEMORY. With one foot tapping in time with her poetry's rythymn, back-lit by the stained glass sunlight of King Street Halls, she seemed, as a fellow audience member put it, 'a force of nature'.

On Monday, she shared a couple of excerpts from Dart, her T.S. Eliot Prize-winning 2002 poem which follows the River Dart from its source - Cranmere Pool on Dartmoor - to the sea.

This reminded me of Margaret Tait's film Orquil Burn which followed a body of water from the sea in search of its source. When writing about its making, Tait said:

"Strange, strange people asked me why I went from sea to source and not from source to sea. 'Why not' they said, so so puzzled, not the more obvious the more logical direction of source to sea. It was a voyage of discovery. Exploration. They wanted me to know beforehand where it started, what it all is. A river is known in its busy part. You follow it up. Those puzzled people think you know it all, so you can start with the Source, the cause, and demonstrate the issue. All already known." D97/32

Diary of Orquil Burn production, D97/11/2
Transcript of Orquil Burn commentary D97/12/1
Leaflet for Orquil Burn D97/12/1
Still from Orquil Burn - Scottish Screen Archive.


  1. just watch your grocer its...

  2. Alison... is that you?

    We hung our heads in shame when we read your comment. We are an archive! We should be stripped of our staple-removers and cardigans at once!

    In our defence, we thought we could smell cheese scones in the building as we typed. That will put anyone off their game...


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