Books for Independent Thinkers

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Colin Donati is a Scottish poet and musician living in Edinburgh. His poetry has been well published in magazines and anthologies, so far mainly in Scotland. He has also published translations and non-fiction prose. In 2006 he received a Scottish Arts Council bursary to make a Scots translation of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, extracts from which appear in The Smoky Smirr o Rain (ItchyCoo/Black and White, 2003) and issue 110 of Chapman Magazine. He is currently and belatedly recording music with PIG (Partners in Grime).

On the subject of his Italian roots Colin says: "When I travelled to Barga in 2006 with my brother and sister to look for family records, we were unaware of the full extent of the Scottish-Italian connections that have grown up there. Our immediate ancestors married in Castelvecchio di Barga in 1873 and were settled in Edinburgh by the 1880s, so it looks as if we were among the first to flit and the last to find out. It was great and I want to go back. The cover for Ancient and Now uses an image from an Etruscan tomb. Similar area. Same roots...?"

'Rent, totorn'

We stood on the cliff's edge
you looked to sea, I to land,
I thought of stars, you of buses

life's like that: the mind all
false correspondences and
juggled words preferred to silence

the constant wordless gaze
of all that's real round us we
don't connect with, split by rancour

standing at the cliff's edge
looking to land and thinking
of rents, or to sea and buckets

this was what happened, this
was what was impossible
to let go of at time of death

but at time of death let
go of it we do and must
at time of birth let go again

(Originally published in Chapman Magazine)

From "Didjeridu"

and slowly on and in the growls come soon
one drummer starts to pad time on tight skins,
another with two hard sticks taps a pulse
held at his lips and still sustains the drone
the deep, high overtones, grudged beats and snaps,
sudden bird-cries, raucous barks and yaps
as woken figures from ancestral time
come cosmic tricksters, track, chase tails, give slack,
bounce between hollows, step from back to back,
weave shifting stories, circle into dance,
around the axles of all utterance,
red bedrock lightning, snake-path dissonance,
turtle consonance, birthpang, cloudburst, rain,
through sound grounded wholly in creation,
and wake at dawn from seat to crown each day
each station of the spine with living breath
that burns within the body as does bread.

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Ancient and Now