Pibroch | John Bolland
John Bolland is a poet, writer and artist based in the North East of Scotland. His poetry and short fiction have been widely published in journals and anthologies. He blends a lifelong commitment to writing with scientific training and first-hand experience of the international oil & gas industry.
What are our choices on a burning platform? 167 offshore oil workers lost their lives in the Piper Alpha Disaster of 1988. The current Climate Emergency confronts us with the probability of the 6th Mass Extinction in Earth’s 3.5 billion year history, an event which will not spare humanity. Blending empathic research, deep analysis of texts related to both Climate Change and the Piper Disaster and 30 years of experience of working in the international Oil & Gas industry and, more recently, years of climate activism, Pibroch probes the meaning of Climate Justice and the ethical and existential predicament in which we all find ourselves.
‘This is a searing collection, so well sustained and interconnected that it serves not only as a work of art but as a manual of the human condition: its stupidity, its heroism, its love, its inclination for self destruction. Some piece of work!’
‘Pibroch brings the Piper Alpha disaster searingly alive, through poems like ‘You Watch the News’ based on reports, eye witness accounts, and the poet’s blistering words. A scholarly collection, very pertinent to our uncertain times.’
‘Pibroch is a rich and resonant volume of verse, with subtle shifts of tone that change the mood music at the turn of a page. John Bolland has gathered a late lyrical harvest, carrying the reader from lamentation of a lost piper to the sticky fingers of a honey thief.
Pibroch is, in the broadest sense, concerned with the ecology of memory and with the risks of forms of memorialisation that leave the door open to danger and repetition. Characterised by earthiness, earthliness, and an expert ear for the rhythms of reportage, Pibroch exposes the inadequacy of official accounts of so-called industrial accidents. These poems catch the crackle and cry in stark unsentimental imagery, bringing to the dryness of documents and depositions a full-hearted understanding of the heads behind the headlines, the names behind the numbers, and those left behind when the heads are counted. The catastrophe of climate change is a key theme, its motif the human cost of fossil fuel, reharmonised in a minor key in the guilty pleasures of a family robbing nature in their backyard.
Pibroch is about what is worth keeping, preserving, holding onto: the renewable energy of anger and hunger for change. There are some things to which we must never acclimatise and the destruction of the planet and the people who keep it going is one.’
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