The writer Kenneth Steven has visited Galloway on a number of occasions and was last at the Swallow Theatre nearly three years ago.
Last Sunday, June 15, he returned to read his poem ‘A Song Among the Stones’. As Kenneth said in his introduction, this is rather different from his previous work, being a pared-down sequence of poems which are intended to be read as one unbroken piece. Kenneth’s intention is to suggest that the poems are fragments of some lost manuscript, recalling dangerous and difficult journeys made in the sixth century by Celtic Christian monks from the west coast of Scotland. Although there is no definite evidence, it is thought that the monks may have reached Iceland, and to this day archeologists are looking on the island of Papey (off the east coast of Iceland) for evidence of Christian settlement.
The resulting poetry is very evocative, with some striking and very vivid images, reminiscent of the work of the Orcadian poet George Mackay Brown. Because of its fragmented and concentrated nature, a reading of the poem alone could be sparse and bare. This was skilfully avoided by the addition of music from the well-known clarsach player Wendy Stewart, who had composed a series of pieces to flow through and between the words. In addition Wendy played a number of pieces at the start of the evening, including a very haunting Icelandic song.
The next event at the Swallow Theatre, on June 21, is something completely different – a daring comic adventure for everyone over 12!