Sunday Poem – David Borrott and Carolling in the Supermarkets…

I’ve had a really lovely weekend.  And its not over yet!  On Saturday morning I met with about 15 members of the Barrow Shipyard Junior Band and we went carolling in Morrisons to raise money for the band funds.  I haven’t counted it up yet properly, but I know that we raised over £200 pounds, which is amazing for two hours playing. 

I was really proud of the band – they played really well and it sounded really good, which is not necessarily a given! 

When I was younger – I used to go carolling nearly every night of the week in December with the brass band I used to play with down in Leicester, Unity Brass.  I used to absolutely love going.  We would play in Asda at the weekends, and in the evenings, we used to go round the streets and stand underneath lamp posts and play whilst our parents went and knocked on doors and collected money. 

I knew all the carols off by heart, because I didn’t like turning the pages of my carol book in the cold.  And part of carolling that I loved, was the socialising in between, which is so important. 

I’m not going to drag the kids out every night carolling this year – I’m easing them into it gently.  We have our christmas concert on Friday 14th December at the Hawcoat Park Sports and Social Club, and then I’m taking the other half of the band to Tesco’s on the 17th to do some carolling there. 

So after Morrisons, it was a quick change of clothes, and then straight down to Leeds for a reading at the Flux Gallery with Gaia Holmes and Helen Mort, with Ian Parks introducing.  It was a really lovely night, my throat held up (afterwards I had a bit of a coughing fit in the Indian restaurant) and I got to meet up with Manon Ceridwen and her soon to be hubby Dylan, who came especially from Wales to hear me read. 

I sold a couple of books, swapped one with David Cooke, and then went shopping with Manon and Dylan today (shopping with Manon = fatal mistake) and bought a dress that cost far too much money for Manon’s hen night, when we are hitting the streets of Liverpool. 

And yesterday I was mentioned in the Independent’s round up of Poetry Books of the Year – which I am ridiculously excited about – you can read the article here

But enough about me!  Today’s Sunday poem is by David Borrott.  I met David on the Manchester MA.  David is a very humble person, who like many of my poet friends, does not send his work out enough, and consequently, does not have the recognition he deserves.  He is a great poet – I recently read a draft of a pamphlet manuscript which I found really exciting – he writes what I am going to call ‘domestic’ poems – although I am aware this label is problematic – one of the few male writers I know who are doing this – one of my favourite poems in the manuscript, which I thought I would hate because of the title is called ‘Emptying the Dishwasher’ but his unique perspective on this very simple act makes the poem sing. 

I’ve chosen to share ‘Self Portrait with Fiddling Death’ because I think it shows David at his best – wry sense of humour, beautifully observed detail, but with a strangely detached eye. 

Self Portrait with Fiddling Death – David Borrott

(After Arnold Bocklin)


Death stands behind me fiddling,
by fiddling I mean playing the violin.
Death is his usual skeletal self,
imaginatively thin but a palpable symbol
and stark: the drumlins of his old skull,
the darkness flowing through his ribs.

 His music is lascivious, sad,
tempting, bitter as a root.
The violin is curved like a scorpion’s sting.
Death has no haste, the blonde bow
cradles the strings, drifting over
the strange ocean it is pulling in.

 Surely he misses some notes his fing-
er-bones jar on the chords or pluck
an off string, though he trips off glissandos.
As the darkness behind us ferments
how similar we become, our open smiles,
after a while it’s only the violin
that distinguishes us.

4 comments on “Sunday Poem – David Borrott and Carolling in the Supermarkets…

  1. I heard David read this at a poetry Business writing day and thought it was brilliant. At the time I was going to start an online magazine (before I relised there is only one of me) and this was definitely going to be in the first edition if David was willing. Very pleased that you too recognise David’s talent Kim, and hope to see more of his work before too long.

  2. Completely agree with you about David Borrott. I heard him read on a course at Grasmere and was dead impressed. What a fantastic poem, and thanks for sharing it.
    And very well done you – what a year!

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