Tuesday, May 7, 2024

in memoriam Gerry Loose

Ken Cockburn and I wrote this renga – a Japanese form of linked verse – to remember our dear friend, Gerry Loose, who died on Tuesday 30 April, 2024. We planted verses by Gerry in-between our own.

Gerry's work, as a poet and artist, was concerned with healing, justice, and the practice of radical kindness. He touched so many lives, as friend, mentor, encourager, and exemplar of the true good life, embodiment of the dharma gadelica.

Together with his partner Morven, Gerry made real the tradition of the Japanese hut poets, sharing, growing, mending, laughing, living hutopianism, and writing with profound respect for nature. He was also a gardener, devoted to wildness, and an innovator, devoted to tradition.

The paper wish was tied the day after he died, in Starbank Park, Newhaven.

renga: in memoriam Gerry loose


a true relic of dharma gadelica–

the poet’s woolly bunnet

snagged with moss


   a preference
   for proximity


on the shelf

between Heraclitus /

Tom Leonard


   it is only now 

   it is always now



the frequency of a long

disused path


   the deer nibbling

   while you’re gone


eked out

almost nothing left

mushroom moon


   the hound sniffsnuffles

   in the heart of the wood


the unfinished star-

gazing seat

by the unfinished hut


   seeing stars

   seeing ourselves


read the map

   Department of Mountains & Waters:

   One Day Dreaming Permit


a rule I will

still hold to :

‘what would Gerry do?’


   to act is / to dream

   what is said / by the invisible


who better to trace

the breath of horse

in the cypher unknown


   daughter gone into the world
   sometimes I leave her room light on


after a long winter
Spring of Poetry

Open Atelier


   it comes back to me

   your sleeping alone again


the first time in years

the sound of rain

on the felt roof


   and your noisy neighbours 

   the laughing yaffles


the whole day

the whole way



   you with Morven and her

   with her puckish grin

happens most years –


stage-set delivery


   a paper wish tied

   in apple blossom




Lines in italics from GL, in order of appearance: ‘wren’ (Twelve Airs); lines adapted from ‘Cages’ (the unfinished hut, p. 36); permit issued by the poet in residence (GL), Glasgow’s Botanic gardens, from Ten Seasons; lines from poem LXX, faultlines (2015); lines from ‘Pool’ and ‘Mains of Afforsk’, two of GL’s translations of Ogham inscriptions, published by Jerome Rothenberg on his blog ‘Poems and Poetics’; couplet from 'The Deer Path to My Door' in Printed on Water (2007); adapted from a Facebook post by GL, 15/4/24; haiku by GL, Atoms of Delight; the felt roof of the hut at Carbeth; from 'Spirit' The Unfinished Hut.

Photograph of Gerry Loose taking a pause to read on a walking library walk from Carbeth to Glasgow, for Sweeney's Bothy; photo by Luke Allan. Photograph of Gerry Loose, Alec Finlay and Ken Cockburn, The Hidden Gardens, Glasgow, 21 June 2003; photographer unknown.


Monday, March 25, 2024

remember together, Pitlochry High School

'remember together' workshop led by Kate McAllan 


Over the course of a day pupils from Pitlochry High School took part in a number of memory collecting workshops, inviting them to share their stories of the Covid pandemic.


Many of these children encountered the onset of the pandemic at a time of transition: preparing to go to high school and moving in to the first few years of their adolescence. The contributions reflect a spectrum of experiences and emotions. 


The pupils reflected on the meaning of the remember together memorial. What does it mean to remember something difficult or complex? And how can we make universal works of art which make room for every person’s story?  


Using a series of prompts involving nature, friends, food and drink they painted their I remembers


Their responses tell of moments involving friends, creativity and cake-baking. Also at times there are stories of repetition, unease and loneliness.

The Colour of Memories


Recording details in small envelopes, pupils described their most vivid memory of lockdown and assigned a colour to this moment. The colours reflect the myriad of emotions involved. 


The names of the colours read like individual poems. Yellow was the dominant colour and there were several shades of blue.


One pupil remembered filling a time capsule with her brother and feeling hope for the future. She called this moment ‘Deep, meaningful blue’. 

Colour Names


Ultramarine blue


Cobalt blue


Cadmium green


Canary yellow


Naples yellow






Rose pink


Sea green


Lemon yellow


Sky blue




Olive green


Orange yellow


Deep meaningful blue



The Colour of Memories 



Light Blue


I remember me and my brothers weren’t getting along 

but one day we started building dens in the forest

and from that day we were closer than ever



Sea Green


I remember going to my auntie’s house at the beach

when it was nice and warm; the house was the colour

of the sea



Cobalt Blue


I remember most the day I found out

my gran Agnes had passed away and

I never got to tell her I loved her 

 and say goodbye



Mustard yellow


I remember being in my room for months

and not leaving much



Lemon yellow


I remember listening to people sing

over the rainbow’



Canary yellow


I remember my family and I went out looking

for those painted rocks that people would leave out.

The weather was nice that day and we went to places

we wouldn’t normally go. 





I remember being trapped within the confines

of my room



Deep, meaningful blue


I remember the day I filled my time capsule. 

I was with my brother in the hallway, and I was filling 

the jar with anything meaningful. It was the first 

moment I thought about the future. 

I remember


Alec is creating a remember together memorial to the ongoing Covid pandemic, for Highland Perthshire, Spring 2024. These workshop were held on Thursday 21st of March 2023


Thursday, February 29, 2024

remember together (Highland Perthshire)

These ‘I remember’ were gathered for a ‘remember together’ Covid memorial that I’m creating in Highland Perthshire; one of five commissions in Perthshire.

They come from members of the community and, as with the I remember book published as part of Scotland’s Covid Memorial, they give a sense of the diverse ways in which Covid impacted on all our lives. 

A collective act of remembrance is never a uniform expression of feeling: our lives differ and the pandemic laid bare some of the causes of those differences. These memories are also a way of restating a difficult truth: the pandemic is not over.

If you’d like to contribute a memory then please do, wherever you live. You can send them to

I will be posting more information about the design of the memorial and its proposed location in the Spring.

Thanks to Julia Harriman for her help with the project.