Geopoetics Day – Hillhead Library, Byres Rd, Glasgow – Saturday 13 April 2024

Published by Norrie on

Come to our Geopoetics Day in Glasgow’s West End, explore the banks of the River Kelvin, take part in our AGM and in the Lecture Q&A. All donations for this event, apart from the Library rental, will go towards a Kenneth White Bursary to enable an artist to develop geopoetics during a residential week in our Scottish Centre for Geopoetics research and resource base on the Isle of Luing in Argyll.

10:00 Assemble Hillhead Library

10:15 Leave for walk along the River Kelvin

13.00 Return to Hillhead Library (Sandwich Lunch)

14:00 AGM 

15.30 Tony McManus Lecture Following the White Path to the River Kelvin by Emeritus Professor Patrick Corbett + Q&A
17:00 Close

Kenneth White’sA Shaman Dancing on the Glacier” suggests that shamanism began when humans began moving over the Earth after the retreat of the last glacier. He grew up on the coast of Ayrshire and as a teenager he used to walk the coast with the geological field guide in his backpack and the hills above Fairlie in the footsteps of his imagined shaman.  Perhaps 10,000 years ago, the shaman might have passed through the palaeo River Kelvin valley on his migration path to reach White’s Kaim Hill. He might have witnessed the active erosion of the River Kelvin meandering through Kelvingrove Park to meet the River Clyde by Partick. The river exposed ancient Carboniferous coals with magnificent fossil tree ferns. Rivers, ancient and modern, are mythical and magical (and economic) life-bloods. Dunbeath Water (Neil Gunn), the Dart (Alice Oswald), the Ouse (Olivia Laing) have all received their tributes in prose and verse. Perhaps the River Kelvin’s story is still to be told. Kenneth White told Patrick Corbett “I’m not inviting others to ‘walk the White path’ with me. I open a field, and, if they’re interested, once they’ve got the hang of it, people can follow their own paths into it.”  This talk serves to “open the field” to the River Kelvin.

Patrick Corbett on the Luing shore

Patrick Corbett also grew up on the coast – on Dorset’s famous Jurassic Coast – and spent many teenage years walking the coast with the geological guide in his backpack. Unlike Kenneth White, he took the geological route with degrees in geology, ten years in industry (UK, Netherlands and Indonesia) and then 30 years as a geoengineering academic at Heriot-Watt University, where he was head of the Institute of Petroleum Engineering, head of the Energy Academy, a member of the University Court and Vice President of its alumni group, the Watt Club. It was on retirement that he discovered poetry, geopoetics and the fact that Kenneth White was a fellow Heriot-Watt alumnus. He had unknowingly embarked on a different path – one that has seen him end up as Assistant Director of the Scottish Centre of Geopoetics, for whom he has led events at John Clare’s birthplace, in North Wales’s lead mines, over Arthur’s Seat, on Luing, and to the River Kelvin to help attendees see that the many things around us in the landscape are grounded in geology and to “open the field”.