Dear Mr HJW Gilman (After Mrs Mounter at the Breakfast Table) I have been handed the task of turning my response to your painting Mrs Mounter at the Breakfast Table into poetry. And, you see, this is not easy. I have always been one to interact with the thing not the story, and while this seems to be like looking at the glass instead of out the window, it is the gift I was given and I employ it as best I can. So first I want to ask you - how does this make you feel? Pleased, I would suspect. After all, artists crave validation via an audience - an addictive feedback loop, as any whacked-out junkie will tell you, right before they lift your wallet for the next hit. Next, I fear I must say your clever technique of 'sound and solid pigment' reeks of Photoshop Superpunch, something you won't understand. Yet it inserts itself between myself and the painting nonetheless. And that I viewed it online (again, you won't understand) thus rendering mute much of your work. You should be horrified. The strokes, the size, the light that strikes just right - ting! These are all important parts of the thing I was denied. How do you feel? And Mr HJW Gilman, I think I must let you know, I don't care much about Mrs Mounter. But then, neither did you. She's a tool, a bridge, a springboard that you used to move your vision into ours. (Do you like all those image-heavy words? It's how we poets do what you do with paint) Just like I am using you. As for my response to Mrs Mounter at the Breakfast Table, it makes me.... sad?
A drystone dyke holds the garden taut lest the winds blow it out to sea. Little grows easy here – daffodils, lupins, roses. Things that do are worked over and over into flowerbeds, rock gardens, tyre planters painted white. A crub is kept for kale. Weeds are removed to bare brown earth, treasured in this land of bogs, ditches, peat. And sand, for always the sea threatens. It is a simple colour palette, bound to a patch of order. All gardens here are a variation on this, with no wonder for lifetimes rived hand-over-fist from nature that fights back leaves its mark. Each garden says here I am, I’m still here. By the door a sheepdog is cürious and in ditches and bogs weeds grow and a onkerry o halliget colour abounds Dyke – wall Crub – circular drystone enclosure for growing cabbages (kale) Rived – torn Cürious – anxious (not as in English curious) Onkerry – a disturbance, a riot (lit: a carry on) Halliget – wild, unrestrained Sjusamillabakka This voice is between the shore and the ebb, though the body that houses it paces streets hedged by trees and parked cars, and the lips that cast it forth pay their dues to polite society. Sjusamillabakka, where liquid words shoal, swell, crest edges; ending, beginning, ending, beginning. This voice sounds like any other round about here, unless some residual ripples carry through. Perhaps you can't hear it. Or feel the storm surge as the mother wave builds up behind this voice. Sjusamillabakka – between the shore and the ebb (Shetland Tabu, language of fishermen) Mother wave – wave that seeks land, bringing fishermen safely home. (Known as the Moder-dy in Shetland) Maxine Rose Munro is a Shetlander adrift on the outskirts of Glasgow. After spending the first eighteen years of her life exclusively on the islands, without even a small break for the holidays, the culture shock experienced on eventually seeing the wider world rocked her to the core, and is still rocking now. However, as the end result appears to be poetry, she’s fairly ok with this. Her poetry has been widely published both in print and online, exhibited at Stanza Poetry Festival, shortlisted for the SMHAFF Awards, and nominated for both the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She runs First Steps in Poetry feedback programme, which offers beginner poets free feedback and support. www.maxinerosemunro.com