“What kind of country do you wish to live in?”While Scotland debates its political identity in preparation for an independence referendum, Edinburgh artist Angus Reid considered it was time to answer this question for himself. As a film-maker and visual artist as well as a writer, he decided to invite people across Scotland to join him in giving thought to the fact that – as he says – “We have no written constitution... no form of words that define a contract between a people and a government.” Mr Reid believes that the result of having no such defined constitution is that “certain values are easily over-ridden.”
He has written a poem, ‘Call for a Constitution’, which will be displayed in the members’ area of the Scottish Parliament from 17th-28th September. Before then, Mareel in Lerwick is one of a variety of locations across Scotland including Dunbar and Uist where the poem will pop up, encouraging the Scottish public to engage with the quest to define the values by which a people’s government takes political action in their name.
The democratic process of making a personal mark as an individual within society is the device Angus Reid uses to bring his poem to life as an inter-active art installation. In each venue, the poem will appear in a unique public space, chosen to allow the passer-by to connect with the reflective purpose of the words. Beside the poem will be space for the public to leave their own mark, comment or handprint, joining MSPs and other communities in Scotland in a national response to the idea.
Angus will be installing two versions of his poem in Mareel, today (Friday 31st August). The largest version is a translation of the poem into Shetland Dialect, by Christine De Luca. He will also give an illustrated talk and poetry reading in Screen 2 at 3pm on Saturday 1st September, as part of Wordplay 2012.
Angus Reid.He said: “Christine De Luca has produced a beautiful translation of the poem, very precise, but somehow leavening the seriousness of intent with a tone that is light and familiar… The installation in Mareel will be the largest of those I am installing across Scotland. The man that makes my vinyls still cannot believe it.”
He added: “The idea that a poem can speak a common language, can define shared values, can invite people to make our democracy and our parliament their own – these are clearly ideas that are recognisable in Shetland.”
Also happening this weekend is a poetry reading by Fife poet, Joan Lennon, in Bonhoga Café at 7.30pm today (Friday 31st August) which will include contributions by Shetland maker, Sarah Riley. Their work is currently on display in the venue, and is part of Farlin, a project which features collaborations between poets and makers in Fife and Shetland. The project is run by Shetland Arts, in partnership with Fife Contemporary Arts and Crafts.
Both these events are free.
The first weekend of Wordplay concludes with a poetry reading, also in Screen 2 in Mareel, at 3pm on Sunday 2nd September. This features Ron Pretty, from Australia, who will be reading alongside Shetland poet, Jim Mainland.
Ron Pretty’s seventh book of poetry, Postcards from the Centre, was published in July 2010. He has also written about writing in Creating Poetry, which was revised and reissued in 2002. He has edited the literary journals SCARP and Blue Dog: Australian Poetry. Until 2007 he ran the Poetry Australia Foundation and was Director of Five Islands Press. In 2012 he has a residency at the Whiting Studio in Rome.
Jim Mainland, Shetland author, is a poet and fiction writer who writes primarily in English. He has published widely in The New Shetlander - he is a committee member - and other magazines. His first collection A Package of Measures (2002) displays a quietly philosophical mind, coupled with genuine virtuosity, in poems such as 'Nibon: an elementary grammar', which was chosen by Lise Sinclair as the opening poem of her suite Ivver Entrancin Wis.
Wordplay is supported by investment by Creative Scotland and sponsorship by BP/Sullom Voe Terminal. ‘A Call for A Constitution’ is supported by investment by Creative Scotland.