This Kilt of Many Colours by David Bleiman

Kilt cover[7458]This Kilt of Many Colours is David Bleiman’s first poetry pamphlet, out now from Dempsey & Windle.

50 pages, £8

“Reading David’s poemario transported me to dusty village squares, faint echoes of joyful gatherings still lingering around the tables outside the bars, which had in turn borne witness to violent events that shaped the identity of the people and places explored in this collection. David weaves his personal history with that of his family’s journey, in the weft and weave of the fabric that makes up his sense of self and linguistic identity. The half-remembered melodies and incantations of his grandparents are woven with the hope and tenderness of a lullaby for his own granddaughter. The reader is part of this process of handing down wisdom and words through the generations. There is a sense that as people move on, they bring their words with them unaltered, building linguistic monuments instead of physical ones. Regrets and rituals are half understood but fully felt as the reader is put in the position of the child who participates in ceremonies and hears the family stories repeated without fully comprehending them, layers of meaning gathering over the decades. Languages are expertly woven into the colourful fabric, leaving the reader with a feeling of Heimweh for places we have never visited and for languages we have never spoken. We are all made of stardust…y somos todos polvo de las estrellas. It’s a braw collection that will keep readers searching for a piece of their own identity in the multilingual mix.”

Cate Hamilton, educator, linguist and researcher

Lacquer wood fiddler

In Red Square grannies sweep the snow,
men with hungry eyes
come on the coach,
bribe our driver,
pull wild cats with ear flaps
from a canvas bag.

In the Lenin hills
veterans sell army caps
and all their glory badges
of a worthless war.
I need some trophy trinket
but I will not find you here

but posed and presented,
wood freezing your anguish
in the GUM department store.
Crudely made
you hold your fiddle
in a fingerless fist
and throw back your head
to a pudding bowl hat

and yet your eyes
are closed and ringed
in concentration
and the stubble on your chin
shadows a restless moon.

What is your melody,
my yidl mit’n fidl?
Who inscribed ‘Ayy’ on your base?
Who carved and shlepped you
from your shtetl?

My friend, you need to ask?
The klezmer I play for your ten roubles
is singing in your granny’s voice
and ‘Ayy’ is the cry that falls
from the roof of the burning barn

when the Cossacks ride out
in the morning.



(For a September granddaughter)

Given to light,
September sun
of southern suburbs,
catches the rowan fruits
to feed a song thrush.

As you come in
and where you go,
the rowan tree will care for you
and grow as you shall grow.

In the night, Rowan,
when you and I can’t sleep,
the poem that I planted yesterday
is fruiting clusters,
radiant red
on every branch.

Be deep, enchanting as a tree,
peaceful, persistent as a poem,
stand shelter, smiling at the door
and share your sparkling fruit
with all these hungry birds
who want to sing with you
the winter through.

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