Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Poems, Chiefly in the Scots

This evening I was at the Scottish Poetry Library for the launch of this anthology of commissioned poetry in Scots along with its companion selection of the poetry of Robert Burns Best Laid Schemes. There were readings of Burns' work, including a long poem of his about America, nicely timed for today. There were also readings from some of the poets featured in New Poems, the highlight of which for me was David Kinloch reading from his poem about Eugene Montale (the great Italian poet) addressing a cuttlefish in Scots. Kinloch has a wonderfully observant humour running through his poetry and this was a very entertaining poem.

Best Laid Schemes, edited by Robert Crawford and Christopher MacLachlan
New Poems, Chiefly in Scots, edited by Robert Crawford
both published by Polygon.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Koolaids by Rabih Alemeddine

This is a wonderfully inventive novel, made up of snippets of letters, press articles, diaries and narrative from various characters, who may or may not be related. Two main themes run through the novel, AIDS and war in Lebanon. Both themes are treated with sensitivity, insight, thoughtfulness and humour. The result is a novel that is gripping, moving and hilarious.

A one minute review for The One Minute Writer

Friday, January 09, 2009


I've read some interesting books about language recently, you can read briefly about the environmental aspects of these books over on Crafty Green Poet here. Reading these books and started me thinking about dialect and the languages of the UK. Whether Scots is a language or a dialect is an argument that has been discussed for many a year and no doubt the discussion will continue for a long time yet, though I suspect that if Scotland ever achieves independence, then on that day, Scots will become emphatically and without question a language - just look at Norwegian, Danish and Swedish, three mutually comprehensible languages that I guess would be defined as dialects if they were spoken in different parts of one political state.

I've lived in Scotland for many years now and have a lot of Scots words in my vocabulary (which I use in my poetry too) but i would never consider myself to speak Scots. It's the accent, people from the south of England may mistake my Scottish intonation for a Scots accent but no-one around hear would ever allow that my accent is anything other than English. And ye cannae speak Scots wi' an English accent. Incidentally I thought it was strange that my Scots dictionary that i got for my birthday, doesn't have the word dippit in it. (Dippit is a fine Scots word meaning silly or stupid).

If you feel like writing poetry in dialect or that includes some dialect words, why not hop over to Read Write Poem and take part in my latest prompt over there.