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Steve Smart



the poet

Poet and poetry filmmaker Steve Smart is based in Angus, Scotland. His poems have appeared in Atrium, Firth, The Poetry Shed, The Writer's Café, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Poetry Scotland, Gallus, Consilience and elsewhere. Recent collaborations have meant Steve's poetry has featured in anthologies published in New Zealand, Canada and Scotland – while his poetry films have been screened at various international festivals and exhibitions. In 2023, funding from Creative Scotland helped Steve and Irish poetry filmmaker Colm Scully deliver a new poetry film workshop for the Scottish Poetry Library.

the poems

luminous without
being fierce

'Light in Scotland has a quality I have not met elsewhere.

It is luminous without being fierce, penetrating to immense

distances with an effortless intensity.'

Nan Shepherd, The Living Mountain

00:00 / 01:20

                        We meet were ridge meets sky – 

                        your kin are only here,

                        above a rising contour of warmth, 

                        an unrequested flood

                        shrinking your island tundras,

                        stranding you upward, 

                        a feathered bellwether.

                        You switch from being,

                        to being unseeable – lichen-hill-skin

                        you’ll speckle-wait me away,

                        hunker into arctic whites – 

                        if the high corrie snows hesitate, 

                        else doubtful greys for spring.

                        I forget so much,

                        but remember each of all our meeting places.

                        The map knows their names – 

                        I recall stones and land

                        and the rise and fall,

                        where you were, were not, 

                        and were again.

                        I saw your presence shimmer, 

                        while I gazed breathless – 

                        while you waited,

                        while I was not too much, 

                        while you were still.


00:00 / 24:07:02

                        Mine hunters with doll-sized trowels,

                        flense the russet soils with caution.

                        Is that slight discolouration 

                        the circumference of a wooden post?

                        That line a distant season's burning?

                        Stratigraphy layers the plot, yields

                        the story. Circumstantial evidence –

                        is that scrape a street number,

                        a mason’s strike, or just more

                        tumbledown sandstone subtext?


                        The palm gifted a stone tool

                        finds an easy accommodation,

                        caresses as if to cup a cheek –

                        to retouch, re-dress familiar bodies,

                        in more than a change of clothes.

                        How much for ten minutes chat?

                        Of different days and other treasures –

                        of how children always fight,

                        of what the sky says in the dark,

                        of one mind horde to another.


From the United States Library of Congress

details of the first photographic portrait image

of a human produced in America:

Robert Cornelius, head-and-shoulders self-portrait,

facing front, with arms crossed. (Daguerreotype, 1839.)

00:00 / 00:59

                        Robert Cornelius remains sceptical.

                        He does not trust that it will work,

                        or that a specific future develops

                        when this image will be visible.

                        He does not pause to comb his hair

                        or consider us, but guards himself

                        against the possible exposure,

                        against the theft, of unmarshalled spirit.

                        Slow counting silent hesitation,

                        he glances sidelong from 1839,

                        doubtful of our existence,

                        his focus on what he next intends.

Publishing credits

luminous without being fierce: Alchemy and Miracles

  (Gilbert and Hall Press)

entrenched / sidelong: exclusive first publication by iamb,

  though sidelong was previously blogged by the author

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