Why Does the Loch Ness Monster Sing? …Poetry at Adult Learners’ Week

A guest post today from Poet in Residence, Ryan Van Winkle.  Ryan ran a poetry workshop with the ESOL group who meet at McDonald Road Library.  Over to you, Ryan:

Even native English speakers can get intimidated by the challenges of poetry and so it was a great pleasure to be welcomed by the Adult Learners at McDonald Road and Fountainbridge Libraries during Adult Learners’ Week in order to share Scottish poems and to show how rewarding and easy reading a poem can be in in a group setting.

We met Edinburgh residents from China, Hong Kong, Romania, Pakistan and Portugal — talked about different poetic traditions, the romance of Pessoa, and our own languages and experiences as transplants in a new country. While there was some trepidation at first (my favourite comment was — ‘What is the point of reading, when you can just go and do something?’ — a good question for all, I think) with different people having different levels of comfort with English and chatting in general. However, as always, the great equaliser was Edwin Morgan’s brilliant ‘The Loch Ness Monster’s Song’ which, to the uninitiated, is a simple stream of gibberish.

‘Am I reading this correctly?’ asked one of the group.
‘I don’t think there is a wrong way to read it,’ was the reply.

How about you give it a try on your own?

The Loch Ness Monster’s Song
Hnwhuffl hhnnwfl hnfl hfl?
Gdroblboblhobngbl gbl gl
g g g g glbgl.
Drublhaflablhaflubhafgabhaflhafl fl fl – gm grawwwww grf grawf awfgm graw gm.
Hovoplodok – doplodovok – plovodokot –
Splgraw fok fok splgrafhatchgabrlgabrl fok splfok!
kra gka fok!
Grof grawff gahf?
Gombl mbl bl –
blm plm,
blm plm,
blm plm,
(c) Edwin Morgan. This poem appears with kind permission of Carcanet Press and Mariscat Press.  With thanks to Edwin and the Scottish Poetry Library.

We read a few more straight-forward poems too. Liz Lochead’s ‘Kidspoem/ Bairnsangs and John Glenday’s ‘Mangurstadh’. All three yielded vibrant thoughts on the poems themselves, memories of home, childhood, the challenges of raising children, food, language, etc.  What a warming and wonderful thing to share Scottish poems with diverse individuals — and yes, there was also a delicious, international, range of nibbles and, of course, cups of tea.

Thanks to all who came and participated and to Wendy Pearson for helping to organise these events, and, of course, for bringing along the smoked salmon.


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