Sep. 15th, 2012

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Photobucket has decided (temporarily, I hope!) that it does not like the White Horse of Uffington, so I'm stuck for photos today, I fear...

It's been a curious day.  Since the morning was pleasantly autumnal, I went out cycling with J. We took to the cycle track, and since we're creatures of habit, we ended up in Lochwinnoch at our usual cafe. And it was there that I bumped into one of our respected local poets, Betty Mackellar...

I had two reasons to talk to Betty today,  She writes poetry in Scots, often covering local history and wildlife, and not surprisingly the Sempills figure frequently in her work.  We first met at a Semple Society gathering: I was giving readings from my novel while she was there as the resident Semple poet!

There have many times through the years when we've met up in the cafe. Betty invariably asks me about the novel, and until now I've had to bewail an endless litany of frustration/tribulation/angst.  Each time, Betty has been quick to pat me on the back and offer me her sympathy, before giving me encouragement and telling me that I must not give up, because I've come too far to turn back now.

Today, of course, I had good news.  When I told her that Fire and Sword was going to be published next year, she was genuinely delighted.  But I had another reason to collar her, because I've recently managed get the strangest of all possible airings for one of her poems...

The poem in question is my own personal favourite. Called 'Ghaists' (i.e. Ghosts!), it's about the cycle-track in Lochwinnoch which as you can imagine, is a favourite haunt of mine - if you'll pardon the pun!  Another poetically-minded acquaintance of mine, Tracey Patrick, has recently been trying to raise funds towards the publication of her poetry magazine 'Earthlove' by getting people to sponsor her for reciting poems at - wait for it!! - the top of a Munro!!  So in a flash of inspiration, I decided to sponsor a reading of 'Ghaists' because it seemed like a suitably atmospheric contribution to a collection of poems recited by another Scots poet in the great wild Scots landscape.

The story of this escapade has been an epic tale in itself, and one which unfortunately is not without tragedy, as Tracy herself explains in a blog entry she's written for the Scottish Book Trust:-

As you can probably imagine, the blowy tops of Munros are not a place well-suited to the recital of poems, but Tracey gives it her best shot nonetheless.  Here's the batch of poems which include 'Ghaists', which is a truly lovely poem which - when read by someone who can speak their Scots properly and flawlessly (i.e. not a Sassenach like myself!!) - is truly lyrical and a beautiful introduction to the Scots dialect/language.



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