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TITLE
'Landscapes'
EXTERNAL ID
AB_LL_ANGUS_MARTIN_01
PLACENAME
Ben Gullion
DISTRICT
Kintyre
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
ARGYLL: Campbeltown
DATE OF RECORDING
2008
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Angus Martin
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
1249
KEYWORDS
audio
poems
literary landscapes

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This audio is of Angus Martin reading his prose composition, 'Landscapes'. (Image by kind permission of George McSporran.)

'The landscapes I love are all in Kintyre. Nowhere else in the world interests me, except in books. If I were warned tomorrow that should I ever leave Kintyre I would be killed immediately, the threat wouldn't in the least bother me; in fact, it would provide the perfect excuse for never having to go anywhere else again.

Kintyre is not only my birthplace, but also the birthplace of many of my ancestors, so that I can go to specific places - ruins now, mostly - and think to myself, 'The MacKerrals were here' (at Balnabraid) or, 'The MacKays were here' (at Earadale), and so on. These historical and genealogical associations strengthen my bond with the landscape and also inform much of my writing.

At different times of my life, I have gravitated towards different places. As a boy, Kilchousland shore was the main place. I'd cycle there and spend hours at low tide looking into rock pools. Then followed the Learside and the Inneans, coastal destinations again. I camped often at the Inneans in the early 1980s, receiving from its rugged Atlantic isolation something my spirit must have needed at the time.

Then, in the late 1980s - by which time I was married with a young family - my fascination with the sea diminished, and Bengullion became the place. I still visit other places from time to time, but Bengullion remains the constant, not least because, from my home in Campbeltown, I can conveniently walk there with my dog Benjie.

Bengullion is from Gaelic Beinn Ghuaillean, the hill of shoulders. In 1979, it was planted with a mixture of sitka spruce, Japanese larch and lodgepole pine. I was among the hundreds of objectors to the afforestation proposal, but have since accepted the trees and even come to like them, not least when I find myself out in strong wind or heavy rain.

Bengullion has given me many benefits in my lifetime. For several years, in the late '80s and early '90s, I cut peats on the moorland at the back of the hill; since 1987, I have gathered annually from the abundance of blaeberries which grows there from June until September; I have observed, with unfailing delight, the flora and fauna of the hill and watched many bird species, including hen harrier, merlin, peregrine falcon, black grouse and - in 2008, for the first time - crossbill.

There have also been the pleasures of human companionship on the hill, mostly with my friends George McSporran and Jimmy MacDonald, who share my interests. We walk there throughout the year, in daylight and, come winter, in darkness too.

There are times, however, when I prefer to be alone on the hill, especially when I am capable - which isn't always - of writing poems. Then I'll find an isolated and congenial spot, sit there for half-an-hour or an hour with coffee-flask and tobacco-pipe, and, if there is a subject I can write about - and there usually is, be it something I have seen on the hill or something glimpsed in my mind - then I'll write about it. These places have become extra-special to me. For me, they live in the poems written there, and the poems live in the places.'

Angus Martin was born in Campbeltown in 1952 and comes from a long line of local Dalintober fishermen. He grew up with an intimate knowledge of local fishermen and their stories, and followed them to sea with the local fishing fleet, but as a young man experienced something of an epiphany and abandoned his traditional career to follow the writing muse. 'The Ring-net Fishermen' (1981) brought him immediate recognition as a meticulous and original researcher. Much of his material was based on personal interviews.

Angus was introduced to the Kintyre farming communities whilst working formerly as a refuse collector and latterly as a rural postman. His social history, 'Kintyre Country Life', was first published in 1987. Angus also edits 'The Magazine of the Kintyre Antiquarian and Natural History Society'.

'The Larch Plantation' (1990) established Angus as a thoughtful poet, inspired by the landscapes of Kintyre and the people who have lived there. Married with two daughters, he rarely ventures forth of Kintyre but is widely recognised throughout the Scottish literary world as a repository of local history and folk memories, and as a connoisseur of Campbeltown malt whiskies.

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'Landscapes'

ARGYLL: Campbeltown

2000s

audio; poems; literary landscapes

Am Baile

Literary Landscapes: Angus Martin

This audio is of Angus Martin reading his prose composition, 'Landscapes'. (Image by kind permission of George McSporran.)<br /> <br /> 'The landscapes I love are all in Kintyre. Nowhere else in the world interests me, except in books. If I were warned tomorrow that should I ever leave Kintyre I would be killed immediately, the threat wouldn't in the least bother me; in fact, it would provide the perfect excuse for never having to go anywhere else again.<br /> <br /> Kintyre is not only my birthplace, but also the birthplace of many of my ancestors, so that I can go to specific places - ruins now, mostly - and think to myself, 'The MacKerrals were here' (at Balnabraid) or, 'The MacKays were here' (at Earadale), and so on. These historical and genealogical associations strengthen my bond with the landscape and also inform much of my writing.<br /> <br /> At different times of my life, I have gravitated towards different places. As a boy, Kilchousland shore was the main place. I'd cycle there and spend hours at low tide looking into rock pools. Then followed the Learside and the Inneans, coastal destinations again. I camped often at the Inneans in the early 1980s, receiving from its rugged Atlantic isolation something my spirit must have needed at the time.<br /> <br /> Then, in the late 1980s - by which time I was married with a young family - my fascination with the sea diminished, and Bengullion became the place. I still visit other places from time to time, but Bengullion remains the constant, not least because, from my home in Campbeltown, I can conveniently walk there with my dog Benjie.<br /> <br /> Bengullion is from Gaelic Beinn Ghuaillean, the hill of shoulders. In 1979, it was planted with a mixture of sitka spruce, Japanese larch and lodgepole pine. I was among the hundreds of objectors to the afforestation proposal, but have since accepted the trees and even come to like them, not least when I find myself out in strong wind or heavy rain.<br /> <br /> Bengullion has given me many benefits in my lifetime. For several years, in the late '80s and early '90s, I cut peats on the moorland at the back of the hill; since 1987, I have gathered annually from the abundance of blaeberries which grows there from June until September; I have observed, with unfailing delight, the flora and fauna of the hill and watched many bird species, including hen harrier, merlin, peregrine falcon, black grouse and - in 2008, for the first time - crossbill.<br /> <br /> There have also been the pleasures of human companionship on the hill, mostly with my friends George McSporran and Jimmy MacDonald, who share my interests. We walk there throughout the year, in daylight and, come winter, in darkness too.<br /> <br /> There are times, however, when I prefer to be alone on the hill, especially when I am capable - which isn't always - of writing poems. Then I'll find an isolated and congenial spot, sit there for half-an-hour or an hour with coffee-flask and tobacco-pipe, and, if there is a subject I can write about - and there usually is, be it something I have seen on the hill or something glimpsed in my mind - then I'll write about it. These places have become extra-special to me. For me, they live in the poems written there, and the poems live in the places.'<br /> <br /> Angus Martin was born in Campbeltown in 1952 and comes from a long line of local Dalintober fishermen. He grew up with an intimate knowledge of local fishermen and their stories, and followed them to sea with the local fishing fleet, but as a young man experienced something of an epiphany and abandoned his traditional career to follow the writing muse. 'The Ring-net Fishermen' (1981) brought him immediate recognition as a meticulous and original researcher. Much of his material was based on personal interviews. <br /> <br /> Angus was introduced to the Kintyre farming communities whilst working formerly as a refuse collector and latterly as a rural postman. His social history, 'Kintyre Country Life', was first published in 1987. Angus also edits 'The Magazine of the Kintyre Antiquarian and Natural History Society'. <br /> <br /> 'The Larch Plantation' (1990) established Angus as a thoughtful poet, inspired by the landscapes of Kintyre and the people who have lived there. Married with two daughters, he rarely ventures forth of Kintyre but is widely recognised throughout the Scottish literary world as a repository of local history and folk memories, and as a connoisseur of Campbeltown malt whiskies.