Culture Clash: Karine Polwart 

Cultural fascinations with a renowned Scottish songwriter... 


21 · 11 · 2017 


Karine Polwart has always sought fresh avenues to explore. From her 2012 debut onwards, the Edinburgh based songwriter and composer has refused to let barriers get in the way of her artistry. 

New album 'A Pocket of Wind Resistance' is out now, the full musical version of her work on her theatre production 'Wind Resistance'. 

Prompted in part by observing the migrating patterns of geese to Fala Flow - a stunning spot close to her home in Edinburgh - the record comes draped in wonderful descriptions of nature. 

Here, Karine Polwart shares a few of her cultural fascinations with Clash... 

Hannah Kent’s The Good People broke me a wee bit this past month. It’s set in rural County Clare, in the early 19th century. It's a great emotional tangle of strong and complex women, hidden history, traditional ritual and superstition, mavericks and outsiders, grief and resilience. And the language of it is gorgeous. 

Also I can’t wait tot get my copy of The Lost Words by Robert McFarlane and Jackie Morris. 

Me and my kids went last month to see The Eagle Huntress at our local village hall film club. It's a documentary spoken mostly in Kazakh with English subtitles, which is pretty hard sell to a 7 year old and a 10 year old! But we all loved it. 

It tells the story of a 13 year old Mongolian lass who becomes the first ever female eagle hunter in her region, and a record-breaking one at that. The cinematography was gorgeous and the girl and her father, and her whole family, were beautiful, bold, resilient people willing to challenge the conventions of their own place. We had so much to talk about afterwards around gender equality and just the sheer difference in how people elsewhere live their lives. 

And what's not to like about watching a film in a public place whilst lying on cushions and wrapped up in a blanket? 

'Conflats' by Out Lines (Rock Action, 2017). The union of Kathryn Joseph and James Graham of the Twilight Sad, with Marcus Mackay, was ex-Delgado Alun Woodward’s idea apparently. Two raw, insistent, emotive singers and a dark, reedy production aesthetic. They sound great together. And I love that the project has a documentary heart, and was born out of a community music commission in the East End of Glasgow. 

I’m too old for gadgets. Or does my new whittling pocketknife and its wee leather pouch count? I love it. 

TV Show 
I don’t watch much telly but when I do, I stuff it in: Orange is the New Black; Top of the Lake; Handmaid’s Tale. That kind of thing. I’m also a wee bit of a sucker for Chris Packham. 

Video Game  
Cannae do it. I find existence over-stimulating enough. I’d rather go for a walk, have a blether or listen to a podcast.