Christopher Whyte

Christopher Whyte / Crìsdean MacIlleBhàin is an outspoken, controversial and trendsetting poet in Gaelic responsible not only for ‘queering the tradition’ but for fundamental work editing and commenting on the poetry of Sorley Maclean. His sixth collection Ceum air cheum / Step by step was nominated for two national prizes. An accomplished linguist, he has five books of poetry directly translated from the Russian of Marina Tsvetaeva to his credit, including her notoriously challenging final collection After Russia of 1928. His novels in English include The Gay Decameron (1998) and his monograph study Modern Scottish Poetry was published in 2004. He is currently based in Central Europe.

Christopher Whyte

Events

Poetry Centre Stage »

Reading: Christopher Whyte, Jane Frank

Sun 14 March | 16:00 - 17:00 | FREE | StAnza Online

Poem

From Mo Shearmon
 

Mo shearmon mar mo sheanmhair nuair a bha i uamhasach aosta
is a thigeadh i air aoigheachd
ann an taigh mo phàrantan
agus bhiodh i a’ cadal air a’ chùiste mhòir
anns an t-seòmar-chòmhnaidh
agus dhiùltadh i buileach an doras a dhùnadh
bhon a bha i car mì-fhoisneach anns gach àite
a dh’fhairich i a bhith teann is dinnte
is a bharrachd air sin bha eagal oirre
daonnan ro na taibhsean, chan fhacas taibhse riamh
anns an taigh le neach sam bith
ach is dòcha gun do chreid i
gum b’ urrainn dha na taibhsean aice fhèin
a leantainn anns gach ceàrn san robh i dol
is mar sin, ’s an doras fosgailte,
chualas gu soilleir àrd an t-srannail
oillteil, mhaoimeach a dhèanadh i –
smaoinicheadh tu gun do thòisich iad
a’ cladhach suas uachdar na sràide
dìreach fa chomhair an togalaich
leis na h-innleachdan anabarrach mòr
a dh’ùisnicheas iad an-diugh,
air neo gu robh plèanaichean ar nàmhaid
air tighinn gun rabhadh a bhomaigeadh a’ bhaile –
bha sinn uile fo àmhghar,
na h-inbhich is a’ chlann gun dòchas
air mionaid cadail fhaighinn fad na h-oidhche,
ach an uair sin thòisicheadh cuideigin a’ gàireachdaich
agus beag air beag cha b’ urrainn da h-uile duine
ach gàir’ a dhèanamh, is thuiteadh gach aon ’na chadal
gun fhiost’ air mar a bha sin a’ tachairt
agus sa mhadainn, a’ gabhail ar bracaist,
bha e gu leòr fear dhinn an sealladh
ann an sùilean fir eile a ghlacadh
is bhiodh an gàireachdaich a’ tilleadh
agus dh’fheòraicheadh a’ chailleach
gu dè an spòrs a bh’ againn uile
’s e ga cheiltinn bhuaipe
ach cha do dh’innis sinn idir
agus, an dèidh dhi dol dhachaigh,
sna leapannan, b’ e an spòrs cò dhèanadh
an atharrais a b’ fheàrr air an torranach
uamhasach a thigeadh a-mach
bhon t-sròin bhig aig granaidh ’s i ’na cadal

Christopher Whyte / Crìsdean MacIlleBhàin

From What I Have To Say

What I have to say, like when my grandmother
was already very old, and came to stay
in my parents’ house, sleeping on the big
couch in the sitting-room, and refused
absolutely to close the door
because she got a little bit restless
anywhere that was cramped and enclosed,
besides which she was always afraid
of ghosts, nobody had ever seen
a ghost in the house, but maybe she believed
that her own ghosts were capable of following her
wherever she went – with the door open
you could hear loud and clear the monstrous
horrendously noisy way she snored –
you’d think they’d started
digging up the road in front of the building
with the incredibly huge machines they use
these days, or else that enemy air force
planes had suddenly arrived to bomb
the city – we were all at our wits’ end,
adults and children equally convinced
they’d not get a wink of sleep during the night
but then somebody would start laughing
and little by little no one could hold out,
we were all laughing, and fell asleep
without realising how that came about
and in the morning, eating our breakfast,
all that was needed was for one of us
to look another in the eye, and the laughter
came back, and the old woman kept asking
what was the joke we were sharing
and not telling, keeping it hidden from her,
and after she went back home
the game we played in bed was to see
who could do the best imitation
of the terrifying din that emerged
from granny’s little nose while she was sleeping

Christopher Whyte / Crìsdean MacIlleBhàin, tr. Shuggie McCall