Pan Ross Collage
Ian Blake looks across to Skye and Harris, living (with three cats that parked themselves on him) 200 paces from the shore of the Minch at Aultgrishan - which is also the title of his collection (diehard 1999 ISBN 0946230517) With a background of Middle Eastern archaeology, journalism, mountaineering, teaching and drama, his has appeared in Poetry Scotland; North Words; Oxford Today; The Irish Times and The Dublin Magazine and, by "Iain Dubh" in The Scots Magazine. Tarring the Boat won the 1997 £1000 Petra Kenney Poetry Competition and 2084 was the first poem to win the Neil Gunn Competition (1999) Blincoe was workshopped and given a rehearsed reading by the Mull Theatre at Dervaig in 1997. Many of his poems reflect the last flickers of a way of life which has virtually vanished from highlands and islands.

Highland Culture


Each year we tar the boat;
hot on our backs the sun
raises that familiar tangy, sweet,
almost antiseptic smell,
winterlost, but now remembered well;
another mackerel summer has begun.

Careful, we brush black tar,
filling each chink we know,
caulking treacherous gaps which winter found
and drove intrusive sand
past rib and strake spokeshaved by loving hand
carried gravewards eighty years ago.

Bench-seated, two by two,
bum to bum, six men
each pulling one salt-whited narrow oar;
between two stone groines, they
creel-laden, stir the elephant-wrinkle-grey,
autumn sea. Or middle season, when

bright from the sand, the sun
reflects, turns water blue;
surface a flaming mirror. On their backs,
through flannel shirts, the heat,
line featherhooked for mackerel at their feet;
a usual summer evening's work to do.

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