With great sadness Water Story bid farewell to our dearest Pat Sutherland on Wednesday morning, 7th June 2023. Pat has valiantly and repeatedly battled the return of her cancer, using recent years to live life brightly and immerse herself in writing. A breathtaking collection of her poems have been gathered in an anthology, pulled together by Giovanna MacKenna, Kay Ritchie, Debbie Macrae and Sukhema (Larry Butler) of Playspace Publications. We are eternally grateful to them for wrestling Pat's words into print even as our hearty succumbed to the "incubus" that has pursued her for so long. Although Pat didn't make it tot the launch she did hold her anthology in her hands, ever modest about its contents but happy, we believe, that we had succeeded.
Here is a link to Larry's (Sukhema's) Playspace site where you can buy the anthology if you wish - £9.99 - significant profits will go to Lapidus Scotland so your support is much appreciated. But the main reason for purchasing it would be for the sparkle of lifely delight that drips off the pages... Pat's writing has always been an inspiration, her "show don't tell" is achieved with subtle but determined pursuit of verbs over adjectives... see how it's done.
This is Pat's granddaughter on the cover of the book.
|Pat's "Sic a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation" after Burns|
Treasure Tree by Pat Sutherland
I tied a ribbon to a treasure tree;
the ribbon was my hope,
a pot of years the treasure.
lustrous silk and satin
joined the dance
of leaf and ribbon
on the treasure tree.
Envious empty branches
leaned down to whisper,
More ribbons, more years
- and in my anxious search
I squandered dwindling time,
till one naked twig
remained, grey among
winding in the wind.
fitting as in fable,
one ribbon graced
one coil of crimson promise,
The twig beguiled:
No more ribbons, no more years!
I saw the twig, unadorned
among its gaudy peers;
I saw the ribbon
waiting to become itself.
My palm enclosed it.
I thanked the tree
for my traded years,
wound the last
through the tendrils
of my hair;
in a perfect bow.
Reflections and Messages
Below are some reflections on Pat from Water Story and other writers, some of which were shared at the book launch on 4th June. If you'd like to share something please email me and I will add it to the post. (Cap'n Bev)
from Pene (a scribbler):
Pat was one special lady whose calm and kindly presence was always felt within the room. And she has left us such a gift - her own words in print.
I’m sad we won’t be together again in person, but know we shall always carry Pat with us and look forward to absorbing more of her memories as we read through her anthology.
Sukhema's from the launch:
All is well
for Pat Sutherland
O body swayed to music, O brightening Dance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance
Even when receiving bad news –
a terminal diagnosis,
you see the beautiful
mixing minor and major keys
your metaphors weave
a tapestry of joy and woe
as William Blake well knew –
the only way to live
as if every day the last
but this present moment lives on
to become long ago
as you craft words
from a treasured past
She was a gentle, thoughtful, quiet
unassuming lady who had a real gift for
vividly expressing, life, times and seasons
through her wonderful writing.
I am so sorry to hear about Pat’s passing. She truly was a remarkable wee wummin. And she had a writing craft and natural ability that some folk can only dream about having. Poetry and creative writing was etched into her bones and tattooed on her heart. She’ll truly be missed. One such poem that springs to mind for me was her Brexit poem. A parcel o rogues. So funny, true and she hit it home.
RIP Pat and enjoy writing for the heavenly Angels.
Giovanna's from the launch:
Creating a poetry collection is extremely hard work, mainly for the poet!
But Pat did not flinch from it.
Since August, Kay, Debbie and I have supported her in:
sifting through her extensive back catalogue of poems;
choosing those she most wanted to see in print;
editing each poem into its best existence;
shaping how the book itself would look and be experienced by you, the reader;
considering how the poems would flow through the book, how they should sit on the page;
creating images to work with the text and,
finally, to the cover itself - which you can see has the perfect image of Pat’s granddaughter, Eilidh Sutherland O’Brien.
Once that work was done, we took to proofreading, and proofreading, and more proofreading!
Until, at last, we had a completed manuscript that Pat - with her exacting standards - can be proud of.
And I believe that’s what we’re celebrating today.
I saw Pat on Thursday and when she held this book in her hands she lit up with pleasure.
Kay's from the launch:
I first met Pat about 5 years ago when I gate-crashed scribble in the kibble. She was elegant, intelligent and observant but when she read her poems she could surprise and sometimes shock. Her poems revealed the wilder, rebellious, mischievous but always the caring woman she was and through her writing I’ve learned of her many adventures. A traveller, she loves nature, loves people and celebrates them with her words - sometimes serious, often humorous but always full of love.
So I am delighted to hold this collection of her work, about her life, in my hand. It’s been a huge privilege to work with her on her book these last few months and to read a couple of her poems today although nobody can read them like Pat herself.
Bev's from the launch:
such a gentle soul, mild mannered
but with grip on rectitude, injustice
such a passionate pen on the way things could be done
should be done
not with stamp and shout but with words
verbs harnessed to the stuff of life
eyes and heart always open
open hands under a cherry tree
at last we have her words writ down to savour
but was it any wonder
that a woman for whom who life so burns so bright
might regularly, on the barge, set fire to the croissants
Such sad news of the loss of a beautiful woman. Please send my love to Pat’s family at this sad time.
from Catrice, Maryland, USA
Pat was a pleasure to know. And though I didn’t know her well, in our brief connection, she was a warm person, funny, full of life and a talented writer. Pat will surely be missed by all who knew, met, and loved her. Truly a special soul to have graced this planet. Wishing her soul eternal peace.
Aw. So sad. I will miss her cheery welcome aboard the barge.
Such a sad loss, such a beautiful, kind lady.
And finally, I took to the Clyde yesterday after hearing the news about Pat. That woman who loved water felt very near... and so dear. Bon voyage our Pat, with love from Cap'n Bev
It's the bottom of the tide.
the Clyde cannot decide if it be sea about rise
or river flowing west to find the isles.
Coal tit chicks chirrup in the trees,
fluff among a leafy breeze, deny the cease of life
that witnessed all so bright.
It’s the bottom of the tide
and our beloved Pat
has this morning died.