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Kenneth White

Thanks to Mike Roman for sending this into us...

Born in Glasgow, Kenneth White was raised on Scotland’s west coast. His studies (French, German, philosophy) took him first to the University of Glasgow, then to the universities of Munich and Paris. His first books, The Cold Wind of Dawn, Letters from Gourgounel, The Most Difficult Area were published in London by Jonathan Cape. At the end of the 1960’s, White chose to break with the contemporary British scene, settling in France, first in the mountain country of the Pyrenees, thereafter on the coast of Brittany. After a period of silence he began publishing again, this time in Paris. The work accumulated during the Pyrenean years - prose narrative, essays, poetry - immediately won wide recognition and some of France’s most prestigious prizes. From 1983 to 1996, White held the Chair of Twentieth Century Poetics at Paris-Sorbonne. During these years, he moved around Europe, America and Asia. Since renewing contact with the English language context at the end of the eighties, several of White’s books have appeared from British publishers, including The Blue Road (narrative), Across the Territories (narrative), On Scottish Ground (essays), The Wanderer and his Charts (essays), and Coast to Coast (interviews). In 2003 a huge volume of White’s poetry was published under the title Open World spanning four decades of his live poetic thinking.

In 1989, White founded the International Institute of Geopoetics and has attempted, through this movement and its individual offshoots, at a cultural renewal and a new depth concerning the great relationship between man and nature.

Kenneth White currently lives in Brittany, France, with his wife Marie-Claude.

More information on the International Institute of Geopoetics can be found at and on the Scottish Geopoetics movement by contacting Norman Bissell, director, Scottish Centre for Geopoetics, 340 Lincoln Avenue, Glasgow G13 3LP,



this is the summit of contemplation, and
      no art can touch it
blue, so blue, the far-out archipelago
      and the sea shimmering, shimmering
no art can touch it, the mind can only
      try to become attuned to it
to become quiet and space itself out, to
      become open and still, unworlded
knowing itself in the diamond country, in
      the ultimate unlettered light.
extract from Late August on the Coast
Epistle to the Birds of this Coast
You gulls who know this coast
from the Aber Wrac'h to the Seven Islands
you of the red-tipped beaks
you sterns and kittiwakes
you oyster-catchers
you band of ghoslty herons
still holding out on the Ile Millau
(I see you in the evening
over the pine wood
grey-blue in the blue)
this is just to say
I'm glad and grateful that you're there
because if you weren't
if you were all gone
that would mean the others had won
the advancing ones
the constructive ones
with their crazy beliefs and their lousy ideologies
their oil-slicks and their nuclear garbage
their noises and their nuisances
(they don't know how to walk the coast
they have to have all kinds of
games and animations
they don't even know what they've lost) -
please keep on using the sky
as you know how
riding the wind
with your eyes wide open
tracing out the shoreline
(along with something else it's harder to define)
and throw out a cry or two now and then
for those of us down here who care
that'll be a kind of reminder
(to accompany the signs
we read silent in the stone):
way beyond the heart's house
right into the bone.

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