We are delighted to welcome Pippa Little as this month’s Featured Writer. Pippa is a poet of distinction who a few years ago, as many of us will remember, read at the Centre Stage event, the highlight of each day of poetry readings at the StAnza poetry festival. She says that her poem, Gathering, which you can read below, and which expresses in lovingly observed detail the sense of calm reflection and companionship with the dead that old churchyards induce, is ‘about (partly) the Howff in Dundee, which I loved when living nearby there, also the beautiful Victorian churchyard across the road from my house now which I visit every day.’.
Pippa Little is a Scots poet living in Northumberland where she is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newcastle University. Her two full collections, Overwintering (Carcanet) and Twist (Arc) were both shortlisted for major prizes. A third, Time Begins To Hurt, is forthcoming. She runs writing workshops, mentors and belongs to two women’s poetry groups. She has been published in many magazines/online including Glasgow Review of Books, Gutter, Dreich (see below under Members’ News), Chapman, Poetry Review, The Rialto. Two proud moments: a haiku beamed on to the wall of the National Gallery in Edinburgh and organising a Poem-A-Thon for refugees.
Surrounded by slanting walls rose-red
and tappy-lappy tenements
this churchyard sits in its own secrets
known only to locals and lone cats.
Slip through its fronded gate
and city roar turns to murmuration,
known names sea-weathered in stone
warm to my hands’ touch.
Grace who died at five days old
Laura Marley, delivered
into the Lord’s care 1869,
Until The Shadows Flee Away.
When time and the heart make heavy
I go with nothing more than need
to be among them, in their fern, bramble, dog rose
where they listen to my thoughts
the old sun shawls our shoulders
and we are companionable with one another.
© Pippa Little 2020