6 Things With... David Bleiman author of "This Kilt of Many Colours"
"This Kilt of Many Colours" paints a broad canvas, drawing on family heritage and life in modernScotland to celebrate the warp and weft of a complex and multilingual identity.
The poet John Glenday, says: "At the heart of this fine pamphlet lies a quite novel and magical conjunction of Scots and Yiddish language and lore. It's an important celebration of cultures, and how astonishingly well the two sit together. Bleiman displays his love of languages and humankind in poems which weave a fabric at once local and universal; persistently beautiful and bound to endure.
David Bleiman writes out of Edinburgh in English, Scots, Spanish, Yiddish and a part-excavated but largely imagined dialect of Scots-Yiddish which won him the
Sangschaw prize 2020 for "The Trebbler's Tale". A poem celebrating the use of Scots by immigrants (like himself), "Why Dae A Scrieve in Scots?" was shortlisted for the Wigtown Poetry Prize 2020. "A Yiddish phrase book" is a winner of the Poetry Society members' competition, Autumn 2021.
David came to poetry late in life, his first poem to be published was in December 2019, at age 66, since when he has published more than 50 poems and his debut pamphlet. David has explored many hobbies with mixed success, including drystane dyking (building drystone walls) and gramophone repair. Currently his main activities are poetry and learning Spanish.
Thank you David, for coming to talk to us about your collection "This Kilt of Many Colours." Could you tell us a bit more about the book? What are six things that went into the writing of this book?
A family history of migration and multilingualism, a working life in Scotland, pride in my multiple identities, yearning for a lost world which may be better left behind us, learning Spanish in my sixties, becoming a grandfather and looking both ways across the generations behind and ahead of me.
Five things you need to get some writing done?
A turbulent night of dreams, anger at the state of the world or Weltschmerz, the elf spirit (Duende), a pile of ironing to avoid, sitting in my pyjamas at 6 am with a mug of coffee and a sense of urgency.
Four types of readers who will enjoy this book?
Anyone with mixed and multiple identities, people who remember and half-remember the language of their grandparents, readers who can relate their own life story to our common humanity, everyone who enjoys poetry for the sound and allows the meaning to follow the music.
Three challenges you faced in the writing of this book?
Learning not to fall in love with my first draft; getting my languages right (Spanish, Yiddish, Scots etc); finding a publisher willing to take a chance with such an idiosyncratic, macaronic approach.
Two writers/poets that have influenced this particular collection?
Sasha Lurje's Yiddish song class on the eve of Covid lockdown; Milton's enduring sermon "no man is an island", which thunders down the centuries against Brexit insularity.
One word to describe this collection?
"This Kilt of Many Colours" can be purchased from Dempsey & Windle (UK buyers) or from Big Cartel (non-UK), both links available from David's website.
Disclaimer: "EMC's 6 things" interview series seeks to promote the artist and their featured writing and is in no way an endorsement of any of said artist's services, opinions or other work outside of this feature.