Jon Plunkett is a poet who has been putting Perthshire on the map. He has been nominated by a member of the public for his efforts in translating poetry off of the page and into the real world, through live performances and the development of the Corbenic Poetry Path near Dunkeld.
The path is a two-mile long attraction set in the Corbenic Camphill Community near Dunkeld. The attraction is free to attend and is dotted with artworks containing poems from some of the best poets in the country. The poems are burned into wood, etched into glass and carved into stone.
“It has been lovely to be part of a community that places such a high value on creativity, and to be in a position to initiate and develop a project that has done something so different with poetry, opening it up to new audiences in new ways, and also in the way that it has brought so many poets together, not only their words, but actually attending live events together.”
The path has taken over two years to construct and has relied on a committed group of volunteers to make the idea become a reality. The path has been dug out and laid by hand and has been specially contoured to blend into the shape of the landscape. A key motivation for the creation of the path was to encourage people to discover quiet reflective spaces in natural beauty spots that might have otherwise been left undiscovered.
Originally from Northern Ireland, he now lives in Aberfeldy with his artist wife Lindsay. Jon reflects on how he came to discover beautiful Highland Perthshire and how his journey to published poet began.
“I came to Scotland to study. Actually I came for the mountains; study was the excuse I needed!
I met Lindsay Turk after being here a couple of years and we spent some years living in the central belt while she was studying at Edinburgh College of Art. We love cities, but are both wanted to live closer to the hills and wild spaces, so we headed north. Aberfeldy has great facilities and seemed like a very open and welcoming community with a bit of a creative buzz about it. It’s also close enough that we can head back down the road for a day when we need a city fix! “
“About ten years ago Lindsay got hold of a book of poetry by an American poet called Ruth Stone. I feigned interest and picked it up, flicked through randomly then read a very short poem called ‘Green Apples’. I was suddenly transported from where I was to a porch in America where apples were being shaken off the trees and rattling down a tin roof. It was a very simple and short poem yet it contained so much, enough to read and reread it and keep getting new things from it.”
After reading the book from cover to cover Jon found himself examining more and more poetry books. After spending years studying the works of other writers, Jon began to pen his own material and has since been featured in several poetry journals, collections and literary magazines.
“I find inspiration is wide and varied, and usually surprising. Often ideas for poems seem to emerge in the midst of busyness. Then again, often the ideas come when I’m out in the quiet of some wilderness space. I suppose a kind of existential questioning is a recurring theme in my work, as is the desire to condense concepts, experiences or memories into a few words. So, anything that feeds into these themes I would call inspiration. “
Jon performs his poetry live at festivals, venues, distilleries, pubs and even in outdoor spaces such as woodlands. He attributes much of his success to his collaborations with his wife and her art works.
“First and foremost, I’d say the collaborative exhibitions with Lindsay have been key successes. Not just in the final shows, but the whole process of inspiring, reacting to, and shaping each other’s work. I feel that some of the poems I am most happy with have emerged as a result of this collaboration and we have had very positive feedback on the exhibitions from critics.”
With his work attracting more attention, Jon is busy making plans for what lies ahead.
“I have a poetry collection being published early next year with Red Squirrel Press, and as mentioned, the exhibition with Lindsay in Frames Gallery as part of Perth Festival in May… and the poetry path is always being developed. We have now created our ‘Portable Poetry Path’ – poetry on wood or stone set on movable installations. We hope to take this around various venues in Perthshire between now and the announcement of Perth’s success in the 2021 bid.”
You can find out more about Jon’s work at: http://jonplunkettpoetry.weebly.com/