Category Archives: Scottish identity

Poetic Politics: A Selection of Contemporary Scottish Political Poetry

Hello, everyone! I’m very excited to finally share a project I’ve been developing for a while. Last year, Sarah Hamlin and I co-organised a conference called Poetic Politics: Culture and the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, One Year On which took place at the National Library of Scotland in September 2015. The conference focused on the cultural legacy of the referendum and featured artists, politicians, and academics from across Scotland, including former Makar Liz Lochhead, Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop, and poet and scholar Robert Crawford. One of the themes discussed at the conference which struck me the most (discussed articulately by National Library of Scotland Referendum Curator Amy Todman) was the ephemerality of many of these cultural responses, and the difficulty of collecting and archiving this work. So many poems were shared live at rallies, or posted on private social media pages, but never published in any sustainable or public way.

So, in an attempt to bring more of this fantastic work to light, Sarah and myself are publishing an anthology! We’re undertaking this project in partnership with Luath Press, and will be working with a larger sub-editorial team of researchers from a variety of fields (English Lit, Scot Lit, Politics, History, etc.) to bring a wealth of perspectives to the table when combing through submissions.

If you have written any poetry engaging with Scottish political issues, we would love to read your work! The call for submissions is on our website; submissions are due May 15. Poems need not respond to the Scottish constitutional question but may address a wide range of political issues. We welcome work in any language, although translations are required in English, Scots, or Scots Gaelic for any poems not in those languages. Although the anthology will be a physical, print-based book, we also welcome submissions of performance-based poetry (in video or audio format) for consideration for publication on our website.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! -Katie

On Being a Scottish Poet – or am I?

A couple weeks ago, in the first seminar discussion for the Constructions of Scotland class I’m auditing at Strathclyde, we were introducing ourselves and the professor (Dr. David Goldie) said he’d heard I was a Scottish poet. “Well,” I fumbled, flattered but confused, “I do write poems and I’m in Scotland…” He replied, laughing, “There you go! A Scottish poet.” He then went on to unpack this and led us into a discussion of what constitutes identity, particularly in the literary world. It’s a question that’s been working in the back of my mind for weeks now: can I, as an American citizen freshly moved to Glasgow, really assume the title of Scottish poet? It’s true that I’ve written poems while physically in Scotland, as well as poems about Scotland. And I’m active in the Scottish slam scene while I’ve never taken the stage in the U.S. But still. My Philly accent gives me away as American the moment I open my mouth to read stanza one. It’s caused me to think: how do we define who is a Scottish writer? Or a Scottish dancer, or artist, or whatever one’s craft may be? Continue reading