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.