Wigtown Poetry Prize

Tuesday 17 September 2019, 14:46

StAnza is delighted to be working in partnership with Wigtown Book Festival this year, and we celebrate along with them on the announcement on Friday of this year's winners in their annual poetry competition. It was a particular pleasure for us to recognise some familiar names amongst the winners and those shortlisted, including Claudia Daventry who has made huge contributions to StAnza over the years and who was the runner up for the main prize, Daibhidh Eyre, StAnza's Poet in Residence in 2018, who wins the prize for a poem in Gaelic, and Dorothy Lawrenson. Our congratulations to them and to all the winners. We'll be sharing more information about this year's Wigtown Book Festival soon, but meantime here is the full press release from them about their poetry prize winners.


PRESS RELEASE 16 September

Scots Language Poem Wins International Wigtown Poetry Prize For The First Time

For the first time a poem in Scots has won the annual £1,500 international Wigtown Prize for poetry.

Shiftin by Mhairi Owens, was among entries from poets from as far afield as the USA, China, Canada and Ecuador, writing in English, Scots and Scottish Gaelic.

This year, the Wigtown Prize was opened up to entries in Scotland’s three languages for the first time, marking the 2019 United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Mhairi, who lives in Anstruther, works in the community and also tutors in creative writing at the University of St Andrews, said: “I was delighted to get the news that Shiftin had won the Wigtown Prize on a dreich Friday night.

“It’s literally a slim wee poem, but uses some very beautiful and unique Scots words and phrases. It’s right that many of us who use Scots in our everyday communication should use it in our poetry.”

As in previous years there were also dedicated categories, with top prizes of £500, for the best Scots and Scottish Gaelic poems that were won by Dorothy Lawrenson and Daibhidh Eyre respectively.

The second annual Dumfries and Galloway Fresh Voice Award also celebrates talent linked to the area and was won by Clare Phillips.

The new Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize – commemorating one of the country’s most distinctive voices – for a short body of poems – was awarded to Beverley Bie Brahic.

The prizes will be awarded at a ceremony on 5 October at Bladnoch Distillery as part of the Wigtown Book Festival.

Marjorie Lotfi Gill, who chairs the Wigtown Book Festival Board of Trustees, said: “This year has involved a real step change for the Wigtown Poetry Competition.

“The Wigtown Prize is recognised as a significant international award and we are proud that it now provides an equal platform for work in all three of Scotland’s indigenous languages.

“It’s fitting that this year’s winning poem is Mhairi Owens’ wonderful Scots poem Shiftin.

“We are also extremely pleased that there has been an enthusiastic response to other changes, like the introduction of the new pamphlet competition commemorating Alastair Reid, which allows us to celebrate a short body of work.”

This year’s other winners are:

Daibhidh Eyre, from Coatbridge is currently living in Guangzhou in China, teaching English for Education First, said: "It's great that the Wigtown Poetry Competition gives proper recognition to the importance of Scottish Gaelic and I feel very honoured, especially when you look at all the poets who have won this prize in years gone by."

Dorothy Lawrenson, who lives in Edinburgh and is studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh, said:It's fantastic that such a prestigious prize celebrates all three of Scotland's languages. I wrote my first poem in Scots less than four years ago so I'm absolutely thrilled by the recognition, and hope it will encourage others to have a go at writing in Scots.”

This year the competition has new partnerships, including with StAnza, and is building on its established relationships with the Gaelic Books Council, the Saltire Society, The Scottish Poetry Library and others.

Asif Khan, Director of the Scottish Poetry Library, said:The Wigtown Poetry Prize has quietly become one of the most important, outward facing awards in the UK. We’re delighted to be associated with it and delighted at the calibre and quality of this year’s entries and winners.”

Sarah Mason, Programme Director of the Saltire Society said:The Saltire Society is pleased to have supported this important prize for Scots poetry again, particularly as we celebrate indigenous languages this year. Congratulations to Mhairi, Dorothy, Robert and all the 2019 shortlistees and winners.

Eleanor Livingstone, StAnza’s Festival Director, added:How excellent to see such a varied range of winners coming through this year, amongst such a high quality shortlist.

“Congratulations to Mhairi, and also to Daibhidh, who was Poet in Residence at StAnza 2018, Dorothy, Beverley and Clare. I look forward to seeing the poems in due course.”

Alison Lang, The Gaelic Books Council, said: We at the Gaelic Books Council are proud of all the poets who have been shortlisted, and we warmly congratulate Daibhidh Eyre, the winner of the Gaelic prize, and the others who have achieved success in this year’s competition. It is our privilege to support the Wigtown poetry competition, and it gives us great satisfaction to see new talent emerging as a result of this opportunity.”

Categories: News

Poetry Map of Scotland, poem no 287

Thursday 12 September 2019, 09:56

Dear Edinburgh,

You cannot visit yourself and that is sadness.
Your sky is nice. Your sky is old lace over a lamp.
Instead download my brain tape.
You are full of corner shops, castles, print piles.

You never ring on Sundays to have supermarket conversations.
You are just here wearing no knickers
telling all about your once volcanic disposition,
how once a year you night bus and dress in posters.
Teach me how to wear so much weight on one wrist.

Next year, at midnight, we will scale Arthur’s seat.
I will bring the drinks.
It will be strange for you to look down at yourself,
your outline, a surgery scar
dimming from blush to taupe.


Hannah Jane Walker


View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

September Poetry Round-Up

Thursday 12 September 2019, 09:34

We may still have some warm days to come but there's definitely an autumn bite in the air, so what better to do than plan some poetry events. Happily, there are plenty coming up. Here are some which might be of interest.

There are forthcoming launches of Jim Carruth's new collection, Bale Fire, on 17 and 19 September in Edinburgh and Glasgow respectively.

Later this month Wigtown Book Festival covers two weekends, from 27 September to 6 October. We're very happy to be partnering them this year; watch out for some some StAnza flagged events.

Anna Crowe is launching her new collection next month and reading at several events including on 16 October at a Poetry Association of Scotland event at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh, and then with Stewart Conn on 19 October at Platform in Ladybank.

Later in October, come and enjoy poetry for autumn at St Andrews Botanic Gardens with the Dean Poets, Patricia Ace, Anna Crowe, Vicki Feaver, Stephanie Green, Paula Jennings and Jane McKie. This is a Sunday afternoon event on 27 October from 2.00pm to 4.30pm. There will be an interval when tea, coffee and cakes will be served as part of the admission price, and books may be bought. Tickets £12 / £10 concession to Friends of the Garden and students

Than in November comes an event which, following our Arabic language events at StAnza this year, we're keen to support. A fundraiser for for the charity, Embrace the Middle East takes place on Saturday 16 November at 7.30pm at St Leonard's Church, Donaldson Gardens, St Andrews. Douglas Dunn and Anna Crowe will be reading.

And as well as all the poetry, there will also be music. St Andrews Voices, Scotland's only festival dedicated to the voice and vocal music takes place from 17 to 20 October.

Finally, if you haven't checked out The Arch, our e-book of poems by William Soutar selected by Geart Tigchelaar to match his photographs from his last visit to Scotland, you can find it online here. Soutar's words feel very appropriate yesterday, when ...

... the dingin o' his dirdrums
Rattl'd a' the house.

Categories: News

Post a poem from the Edinburgh Int Book Festival

Tuesday 20 August 2019, 15:22

Our StAnza poem postcards have proved very popular at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The first supply went within days, and the second supply even quicker. A further and final supply is on its way, so if you didn't get one and want to, they should arrive in Charlotte Square by 8.30pm tonight. The book festival has almost another week to run, but the postcards are likely to disappear before they fold their tents, so best get in quick! 

Categories: News

The Arch - including poems by William Soutar

Tuesday 13 August 2019, 16:39

Legacy projects and events resulting from StAnza which we don’t plan, which spring from connections made at the festival, are rewarding in a very special way. An unexpected outcome from StAnza 2018 led to a further event and a new project this year, the outcome of which now features in a StAnza e-book available online here, featuring poems by the Scottish poet William Soutar (1898-1943).

The poets Geart Tigchelaar and David Eyre met in St. Andrews when both took part in StAnza 2018. During the festival they began their own project, the translation of Geart’s poems from Frisian into Scots. When invited to recommend poets for the inaugural Soutar Festival of Words, StAnza were happy to suggest that Geart and David might be invited to meet again to discuss their project. This event took place in Perth in April 2019.

Geart cycled from the Netherlands to Scotland for the Soutar Festival of Words, and afterwards he and David travelled together across Scotland. As well as his bike and tent, Geart brought with him a newly discovered enthusiasm for Soutar’s poems. Geart kept a Facebook travel journal of his 2019 spring visit to Scotland in the form of photographs, one posted each day on his journey, along with a suitable Soutar poem or excerpt.

Geart suggested that StAnza might like to do something with them and we were very happy to agree. This involved research into William Soutar and copyright for his poems, and we are most grateful to the National Library of Scotland, the Friends of William Soutar, the A. K. Bell Library in Perth and the Soutar Festival of Words for helpful responses to our queries. These beautifully matched poems and images selected by Geart Tigchelaar were gathered together in this StAnza e-book. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have, and if you’d like to read more of William Soutar’s poems, the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh would be a good place to start.

The Arch

Categories: News

Post a poem from the Edinburgh Int Book Festival

Wednesday 7 August 2019, 20:14

It's countdown now to Saturday 10 August when Edinburgh International Book Festival opens their gates again in Charlotte Square. From 9.30am each day until late, there are a feast of events to enjoy. what ever your tastes.  We've already suggested some poetry events you might like to try, which come with a special offer for StAnza readers. Anyway, whether you're there for an event, dropping in to enjoy the vibe and maybe a coffee or drink, or to browse in the bookshop, why not pick up one of StAnza's free poem postcards when you're there and post someone a poem. There are a range of eight poems, all commissioned by StAnza for our festival in March, and to make it as easy as possible, we're providing the Book Festival with a supply of our poem postcards which come complete with postage stamps. So pick up a postcard when you're in Charlotte Square, pop on an address, and post a poem to someone you know.

Categories: News
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