To Breathe Is To Imagine

J.K. Rowling has written that “Imagination is ..the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and, therefore, the foundation of all invention and innovation” and we’ve been working with some of Tayside’s best ‘imaginers’ to create our launch programme, No Boundaries. 


Our poet, Jim Mackintosh, is one of them. Jim has been running  a poetry residency with local young folk as part of the lead up to No Boundaries, and you will be able to see some of the fruits of that residency in the poems we are projection mapping onto the roof of Glenshee Kirk on the early evening of the 11th of November. One of the young folk will be reading a poem they have written live too, in a short performance outside the Kirk at around 6.00pm which will involve Jim, the singer Aileen Ogilvie, and no doubt others!

Jim at one of the young folk’s workshops, photo, Clare Cooper

Widely published, Jim’s writing reveals how poetry can engage us with the everyday and the known and at the same time nudge us towards recognising the often harder to articulate range of human experiences like toil, playfulness and appreciation of the sublime. His poems about landscapes capture their ancient drama and life giving power and bring their people and places into a new focus for our times and you can feel this power through the new poems he has written for us in celebration of the launch of the Ecomuseum.

Jim and Jesse Anderson outside Hamish Henderson’s house at the Spittal, photo, Clare Cooper



And I waited and watched in opalescent light
at Ben Gulabin on a late summer day thinning
in the air, as part of the mountain sighed softly
and the remainder surrendered its rooted grip
leading me to the luminous grey touch of mist
of clouds folding,
of patterns turning,
of seasons unravelling all
its weathers and passions at once.

The weakening of imposition splayed and fading
across the splash of wilt and panicked huddle
in the margins where the scree fuses into motion
at the sight of the light plunging, uncoupled
and bent by the death spurn of brittle branches
of birch turning,
of hours narrowing
of seasons unwrapped but certain of their purpose
– this is no place
for the boundaries of our narrow ambitions.

Jim Mackintosh

Weave being tied into the landscape at the Spittal, photo, Clare Cooper


Stitch the mountains
into the weave of histories

cattle moving
to the rain’s rhythm

to the wind’s beat

to the eagle’s threat

to the weight of breath

to the hearth burning

surviving in the days
of stone stumble, and bracken
mulch with no boundaries

where walls built are broken
down – the muffled protest
of the wind, the hollow call
of denial, the arterial pulse.

The existence of being
has no need, no space
for humanity’s construct.
To breathe is to imagine.

Jim Mackintosh

The giant portrait of Hamish Henderson by Martin McGuinness unfolding on Ben Gulabin, photo
Clare Cooper


I’m on the curve of the mountain, shoulders
pegged safe, earthly wisdom scattered free
curling through the heft of my jute-trim edge.
Did you know I was here before? Less noble

than the Shee stone tumble, water rhythms
nourishing me on my undertaking, shaped
in the nuzzled, sweet embrace of my mother.
Did you know she fed me on a song spoon?

Like Diarmuid, I arrived on the bruised snarl
of others judgement yet hot coals aslant in
snell wind became beacons lighting, nourishing
the learnings of my youth to carve deep streams

of limitless aspiration and compassion beyond
the narrow ambitions of doubters. An art.
That sense of listening to the toil-spin of life.
Did you know I’d return? Or perhaps I never left.

A full circle of breath and here it is. A message
whispered into the bend of grass, a prayer
seeping hope, mystery and a dram of kinship.
Will you bide with me a while? Feed me a song.

Jim Mackintosh


Lean into me Hamish, speak
to me of tomorrow. You’ve been
busy, all places at once

catching the eye of strangers,
holding the door for friends,
welcoming the new neighbours.

You’re something like a gem
but more precious, beyond
the value of brashly, suckled trade

and all those pebbles dropped softly
into the carrying stream, because
you offered up its edge.

I’m in you and yet you’re not here.
But that’s fine as I have in mind
you’ll catch the last bus.

The door’s on the snib.
I’ll have the kettle on. We’ll polish
more pebbles tomorrow.


Jim Mackintosh
















Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.