Koo Press, 2007 - £4.00 www.koopress.co.uk
In the opening shot of this collection in Scots, George Hardie implies his best poems have eluded him, but what follows gives the lie to that. Identities reads to me like a poet summing up what the blurb on the back explains has been a long career in writing—he was one of the founding members of the literary magazine Chapman in the 1970s—and the collection is peppered with references to poets and the writing of poetry. Other than that, the subject matter is a mixture of family reminiscence and gentle philosophy with the odd touch of wry humour. Pondering the possible demise of the “Bumbee” due to urban sprawl, he wonders if the death notice might read, “Nae flooers, bi request”.
There’s an easy competence about this writing, nothing to jar and plenty of nice images. I liked the strong picture in ‘Fairm Dugs’, a small boy encountering dogs “reekan in the dreich and drizzlie wat”, and the men coming along the farm road behind them:
thair traibbelt duds
near as slaigert as the beasts,
thwackan thair sticks
The title poem of the collection focuses on a photograph of grandparents Hardie can’t remember. He searches their faces
For somethin of mysel
ti span the years.
A brig atween my dwaums
and their realitie.
In ‘I Raise A Gless’, he muses on generations of his ancestors, stretching back in their multiples, wondering if they’ll think he, the end result, was worth their bother. He’s prone to this kind of self-deprecation, but George Hardie’s dwaums make for a pleasurable hour’s read. I suspect the ancestors might be rather proud of young George.