Stewed Rhubarb Press began as a spoken word pamphlet publisher. In addition to winning a Callum MacDonald Memorial Award in 2013 with Rachel McCrum’s The Glassblower Dances, they published sixteen other pamphlets, one of which was Tonguit by Harry Giles. After a two year gap they have re-launched themselves as specialists in publishing the poetry of spoken word artists. They have started by re-issuing two collections of poetry. Tonguit is one of the new editions.
Tonguit by Harry Giles in its pamphlet format was shortlisted for the Edwin Morgan Award 2014 and the Forward Foundation’s Felix Dennis Prize for best First Collection 2016. They were the 2009 BBC Scotland slam champion and co-direct Anatomy, a live-art platform. They have toured participatory performances in Europe, New Zealand and Leith.
This publication emerges from between a visually arresting cover. Design and graphics lure and the reader to the page.
There is a powerful mix of anger, nostalgia, irony and despair in the collision of present Scotland within itself and with the wider world in Giles’ poem “Brave”.
There are targets placed and struck that are part of every person’s experience. For example, in “Tae a Cooncillor On his Clossin Anither Sweemin Puil wi his Cuts”, the commonality of the complaint is shared, raised and enhanced by use of Scots, a language that is, as Giles writes in the Notes, “mongrel and magpie, like the English”.
These are poems from different perspectives, male and female, insider and outsider, rendered the exploration of linguistic challenges, written and heard in Scots and English, with its sound and rhythmic differences.
There is in Tonguit a facetted and complex rebellion that Harry Giles invites us to join.