Inspired by Nansen

Friday 8 January 2021, 12:40

Life may be in lockdown once again, but we have just the thing to distract and delight you for the coming days! You may remember back in July when we announced a “call for creativity” with the Museums of the University of St Andrews, when we invited submissions of poems inspired by Nansen’s lithograph of a polar bear. There was a wonderful response to this by 28 poets, and we commissioned Juana Adcock to read and offer individual comment on each of the poems, which was provided by Juana as short videos and audio files.

Our partners at the university were so impressed by the poems submitted that they proposed collecting them in an e-anthology, and we have been working with them on that over the last few months. This has now been finalised and can be viewed online at this link:

Environmental and other concerns prompted by the Nansen Lithograph are addressed in the poems in diverse and often surprising ways by many of the poets, while others were prompted to recollect past experiences. The poets featured in the book are:

Sue Wallace-Shaddad
Steve Smart
Maryanne Hartness
Alice Tarbuck
Gordon Meade
A. C. Clarke
Angela Blacklock-Brown
Johan Sandberg McGuinne
Stephanie Green
William Cowan
Jon Miller
Suzanne Spencer
Camila Contreras
George Colkitto
Michael Greavy
Jane Lovell
Alan Gay
Alun Robert
Chris Brickley
Sarah Davies
Garry Stanton
Lynn Valentine
Jonathan Carr
Finola Scott
Kieron Baird
Aileen Ballantyne
J Sutherland
Thomas Liney

We hope this book will keep your heart warm over the winter months as the weather reminds us of the blizzards and challenges Nansen faced on his expeditions!

Categories: News

Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 363

Wednesday 6 January 2021, 11:57

Tay Reflections: A Flying Boat Renga

Rain mizzling, a St Ayles skiff
cuts jabbly water,
trailing pink and blue upriver. 

Flying forwards, gliding
to pass old ribs that held The Diver.

Oars dig deep, catch and pull,
plough through roiling eddies.
Eyes climb in awe

to aged iron girders,
cathedral spans over water.

Slipping past the bay's soft curves,
a silken-headed seal surfaces ―
rhythm companion across the void.

A watery sun peeps through clouds,
glints on the sandbank furrows.

Surging westwards to Jock's Hole,
Old Kilburn wreck in view,
Fife's green hills behind.

Flisk Point lures the hungry ashore,
Bodies rest amongst the pebbles.

Tide on the turn, return leg beckons;
spray somersaulting on shifting winds,
bow rides high, surfing a lathering tideline.

Oars slap water, plash,
train toots a greeting from above.

Homewards bound, under the bridge
water swirlin and birlin;
smirry rain on warm faces.

Powered by light, each image traces
a line leaving something of itself behind.

Tay Reflections linocutSandra Charles
Evelyn Hardie
Alex John
Gail Low
Heather Marriage
Ruth Morrison

Sarah Leenhouts (linocut artist)

Note: During lockdown, some of the women in the Catalina rowing club, based in Wormit, wrote a collaborative poem modelled on a renga. It's about rowing upriver on the Tay in a skiff called "Flying Boat". The renga form was inspired by Bill Herbert's Dundee lockdown rengas, and it enabled all of us to keep in touch with each other. 

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

Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 362

Tuesday 5 January 2021, 17:17

Glasgow Pride, 2017

Raindrops fall on neon faces
Colours run together
creating a crowd of tie dye delights
Glitter sticks stubbornly to skin
The dullness of the day
will not rid us of our sparkle 

We huddle together
L G B and T
A queer umbrella
shields us from the misery
and unites us under its bright banner 

On stage, four men
create magic
with their mouths 

Somewhere... over the rainbow birds fly  

melting over us 

And the dreams that you dare to dream
Oh why, oh why can't I? 

Lyrics echo, behind hopeful eyes
as old thoughts come caving in 

Why can't I
be normal?
Why can't I be straight? 

but we keep singing
Louder and louder
drowning out all that quiets us 

The music swells
as if to say 

Dare those dreams
Dare to love
You Choose. 

Almost in response,
the sky opens up
offering hope from behind the grey clouds 

A thousand faces seem to gaze up at once
Laughs and shouts ring out 

Laid bare before the eyes of the community,
like God themself was flying our flag 

A Rainbow! 

Beside me, a friend chuckles
and looks over, beaming 

Ha! she says
Maybe God doesn't hate us.  

Kirsty Anne Watters 

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

Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 361

Sunday 3 January 2021, 13:54

Wee Boats on Kames Bay

I look with wavering consciousness
at wee boats stationary almost
in the open pontoon of their mooring.

Glassen surface broken by silent
ripplings of others’ comings and goings,
sappling hulls with pale impressions of cirrus.

Day is otherwise lost, locked into the light
tones of an image that has lasted decades.

Ian Hume

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

Best wishes from StAnza for 2021

Sunday 3 January 2021, 11:50

StAnza 2021 image

(c) St Andrews Preservation Trust

Good morning, and my very best wishes for 2021. I hope it proves kinder to us all than the year just past. January has opened here with several days of sunshine, which has been encouraging, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the same wherever you are.  As we begin this new year in these difficult times, I thank each and every one of you for your continued interest and support in StAnza which is always encouraging and very welcome.
This is not my usual January email about our festival tickets going on sale. Most of StAnza 2021 – and given how things are at present, quite possibly all of StAnza 2021 – will take place online. All the online exhibitions, installations, games, films and digital and sound installations will be free and un-ticketed, as will many events, and the good news is that you will not need to book tickets for these, just make sure you put them in your diary and ‘turn up’ at during the festival. I hope you  find plenty to look forward to in our programme for March. We are offering events on a pay-what-you-can basis
and you should find it easy to make a payment on our website, or by clicking on the link below.
Donate to StAnzaTickets for Zoom Workshops and Round Table events, our only paid/ticketed events for 2021, as well as tickets for other Zoom events will be available early in February, and of course I’ll let you know in plenty of time to book these.
We have provisionally programmed a few in-person outdoor events, and a few actual exhibitions, and have hoped additionally to be able to stream lots of the free online events to small and socially distanced live audiences in our usual hub venue at the Byre Theatre. Of course this all
depend on Covid-19 regulations and it's not possible to know how things will be in March. Accordingly tickets for these in-person and outdoor events and exhibitions will only be available later in February when it’s clearer whether it will be possible for these to take place. However, almost all of them will also have an online version, ensuring you can enjoy them virtually in any event.
You can find more information about ticket sales online at
Meantime, even though ticket sales are postponed one other important deadline will come round much sooner this year, in only a few weeks’ time, and that’s for submissions to this year’s Masterclass led by Colette Bryce.
The Masterclass submission deadline this year is 20 January. This is to allow a Zoom session to take place in mid-February with Colette Bryce and those whose poems have been chosen, at which she will comment on the poems in a virtual ‘round table’ discussion with the selected poets.  This discussion will be recorded and screened free online during the festival on Sunday 7 March, followed immediately by a live Zoom public discussion.
You can find all the information you need about how to submit online here at the 2021 Masterclass listing page.

Categories: News

Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 360

Tuesday 29 December 2020, 15:13

A Walk in Kilmarnock 

I kissed her first on Bank Street.
We strayed alang the cobbles.
I mind the freckles on her lip,
I mind my belly wobbles!
I mind my airm aboot her waist,
Her e'en, as we stopped tae talk.
I mind we turned up College Wynd
An' kissed ablow the nock.

Desire-lines coiled the Strand
Tae the station clock high up,
Then doon John Finnie Street we sang
Like when we'd won the cup!
We turned an swung ower Tim'er Brig
Tae King Street, an the shoaps
I pledged my love would aye rin true
Ti' the Fen'ick waatter stoaps!

We crept enrapt ablow the moon
That lit oor starry paths
An often by a daurkened door
We stopped tae catch oor breaths.
Ae nicht o blessed joy we had,
Frae Riccarton tae High Street
An aw the kirks in step tick-tock'd wi'
Oor herts' harmonic beat.

Kilmaurnock toon was oors that nicht
She was mine, an spun me roond.
I was but a geg on legs,
My spring was ower-woond!
Sae slow, sae fast, aboot the toon,
We turned, wi' the minute haun',
Ilk' brief, sweet second runnin doon,
Afore ye ken, it's gone!

We had naewhere tae go or be
Displaced, an young an free,
But jist hoo brief that daun'er wis
I couldnae then forsee.
As shair's the Palace clock sees aw
The fulness o the airts,
Sae monie faces has a lass
Tae vex a lad o' pairts.

For sixteen year' is still a wean
An lassies they are fickle.
My dear ye dealt a bonnie slap,
(Tho' no sae much the tickle!)
We split, we pairted, me bereft -
She said she had anither!
(Ae nicht I spied them by the brig.
I sweir, I grat a river).

Her hair, her een, her frecklet face,
For several cauld moons sired
Waukrife, fey, grief-stricken dreams,
That mony strolls inspired.
Alang familiar weys, yet strange,
I fun' masel, loast
An the chidin', happy, laughin' nocks
Exacted heavy coast.

I trailed alang thae bonnie wynds,
Again, an ower again.
An even prayed an raged at Goad!
For refuge fae the rain.
Losin' hours, days an weeks,
Autumn, winter, year -
My blood, fremit as the river,
As torturous (an clear!)

An' sae we growe, an' sae we learn
An doole, gie up the ghost.
An' sae we settle, sae we're bate,
Yet love oor torments most!
Kisses, they are o' their time -
An' glorious time we spent! -
But's no her lips I dream o' noo,
It's whit they represent.

Ma aul' hert cannae beat sae fast
As that time in the toon,
But memories o' ma braw, loast lass
Yet follae me aroon'.
I daun'er by the Laigh Kirk,
See lads tak' that same walk -
An' nae folk hear what I can hear,
The ticking o' yon nock.

Was it a noose, that ramblin' time,
A shackle I m'un bre'k,
Frae Gran' Hall tae College Wynd,
Lassoo'd aboot ma neck?
Micht I hae held the Moment
As licht's I grasped her waist
An' no dreamed sully, love-lorn schemes
She carelessly erased?

For "aye an true" 's but youth's desire.
- We burn tae be defined!
In time there comes a lettin'-go:
A wisdom we unwind.
Could I hae cheatet he'rtbrek
An hushed thae flytin' nocks,
By lettin things be as they'll be,
An takin' ither walks?


Come Spring, a flash-flood hit the watter -
A fella escaped wi's life -
He'll mebbe never be the same,
Aye watchin', worry-rife.
Experience's a hard maister,
An the lang shadda cast
Can rob ye o' the joys o'er-dear
If ye'll no let go whit's past

Roy Hair

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
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