“Put the helmet down wondering and lifted it knowing.”

I found this wonderful short documentary by Callum Rice about the Scottish poet Robert Fullerton.

Fullerton was seventeen and welding apprentice, not a profession easily associated with poets.

Now if you’re not going to read it, give it back, because there’s dafter people than you that need it. I thought you were sensible son, you would have got through that in a week! That’s what Archie said to me.”

This is Fullerton’s opening anecdote how he started reading at the shipyard. The short documentary is mainly an ode to Fullerton and the Glasgow shipyard, but to me it is also an ode to an object rarely used this way these days: a book, passed on, read and learned from, regardless of your background.

That was your education in the yard. It wasn’t the library. You didn’t join and get a card. Somebody stuck a book into your pocket. You looked and what was it? Das Kapital! You learned of really rough older men.”

For Fullerton there is no doubt that being a welder made him a writer:

I learned how to write under a welding helmet. Didn’t know it at the time. Now it’s as clear as day. […] It’s the perfect thinking laboratory

And comparing the two trades, welding and writing:

They are both done solitary and in silence.

Put like that, it was inevitable for this man to become a poet. Now watch it all. It’s beautifully filmed and told.

Bridging the Gap: Resilience | Mining Poems or Odes (subtitled) from Scottish Documentary Institute on Vimeo.

Found at Aeon.

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