Hazel B Cameron is one of the poets we chose to feature for National Poetry Day 2008.
Hazel B Cameron was born in Greenock and grew up in Bridge of Weir. She is part of 'Lippy Bissoms', a group of women poets who have performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She also administers the Scottish Pamphlet Poetry website and is the editor of the Scottish Pen site.
These two poems are from 'The currying shop' published by Imago Media. 'The currying shop' was the joint-winner of the 2008 Callum Macdonald Memorial Award.
Hazel says: 'The title poem of my pamphlet collection also refers to the nickname of my home village Bridge of Weir, where during my childhood there were three tanneries. I traced my family back to 1735 as original 'curriers' in the village.
'During my research, I discovered another branch of my family moved to Bridge of Weir from Perthshire in the Highland Clearances. I realised I would not be here if those tragic events had not taken place. The poem tries to consider this as it describes the process of transforming hides to leather.'
The Currying Shop
A modern development but nothing new
behind concrete and melamine, the same
distinctive odour of my ancestors' living.
Recognisable in black and brown: Ayrshire
Friesian, Black Angus — drawn from glens.
Some salted, others refrigerated fresh.
Blood and membrane cling. Vast wooden drums
spew tanned hides from small panel mouths.
Limed and re-hydrated. Shaved and clipped
then hung to dry. Stretched beyond creation:
an open book; declares their story.
A growth mark across the nape remains.
Split, coated and dyed — reds, blues, greens.
Softly draped over wooden horses,
mushroom-cap smooth, inviting a caress.
This end of kye brings material beginnings:
clothes, saddles, upholstery, shoes.
Then and now, a glove like fit: skin to skin.
Hazel says: 'I wrote this poem on a train whilst travelling to a rehearsal for a 'Lippy Bissoms' performance at the Edinburgh Fringe 2006. This is a later version included in the pamphlet.'
We Lose It
From virginity to fertility — it goes.
From blood to lust, innocence to trust,
we lose them all — they go.
I've lost my nerve, my confidence;
lost sight of what I know. We can lose
our grips, our homes, our passion
for the fight and our flair for doing it
right. We can lose them all
in the passing of a breath. I've lost
words I should have said and at times
I've lost my mind. We can lose our hearts
our friends. In the end we lose them all.