THE BIRTHDAY POEMS is a song cycle based on the relationship between the celebrated Scottish poet and author GEORGE MACKAY BROWN and his muse STELLA CARTWRIGHT. It also addresses the platonic relationship between Stella and the Edinburgh born poet STANLEY ROGER GREEN. It spans three decades, from the mid 1950s until Stella’s tragic and untimely death in 1985.
Performed by CHRIS CONNELLY & MONICA QUEEN
Produced by CHRIS BRUCE
Released June 15th 2021 on Jnana Records
Chris Connelly describes the story:
This story is a romance that spans three decades, from the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s, intermittently. It takes place in the smoky bars of Edinburgh, bedsits, flats, the often cobbled streets cloaked in mist and the beautiful water of Leith at the heart of the city. And also the beaches of Hoy and Rackwick, in George’s native Orkney.
GEORGE MACKAY BROWN
STANLEY ROGER GREEN
Drawing by Nicole Caggiano
GEORGE MACKAY BROWN
George Mackay Brown, much celebrated poet and author, fell in love with Stella Cartwright, “The Muse of Rose Street” — as did many of the poets of the time who could be found drinking in the bars of said street. She was the sole woman in a boys’ club, and yet she managed to change the face of Scottish literature with her influence.
Stella Cartwright didn’t make it. As George Mackay Brown’s literary star ascended, so Stella plummeted into illness and alcoholism, eventually dying alone in her Edinburgh basement flat in 1985.
Although George had long since moved back to Orkney, every year he would send Stella a poem on her birthday, right up until the end.
This album is historical fiction, in that, although the dialogue and the poetry I have created comes from my pen, the events described throughout are all true.
One of my hopes is that Stella may achieve more recognition for what she was: a strong, keenly intelligent lover of life. Her incredible spirit was sadly eclipsed by males she surrounded herself with—that, and the booze.