South Scotland

Scots poem takes Wigtown international prize for first time

Mhairi Owens Image copyright Anne Vance
Image caption Mhairi Owens said she was delighted to take the international Wigtown prize

A Scots language poem has won the international Wigtown Poetry Prize for the first time.

Shiftin, by Mhairi Owens, saw off entries from the USA, China, Canada and Ecuador for the £1,500 award.

This year the prize was opened up to entries in Scots, English and Gaelic for the first time.

Ms Owens, from Anstruther, who tutors in creative writing at the University of St Andrews, said she was delighted to be told she had won the award.

"It's literally a slim wee poem, but uses some very beautiful and unique Scots words and phrases," she said.

"It's right that many of us who use Scots in our everyday communication should use it in our poetry."

Image copyright Colin Hattersley
Image caption Marjorie Lotfi Gill said it was "fitting" that the poem had won the prize this year

The poetry prize was launched in 2005 and first ran the following year.

In previous editions Scots and Gaelic entries had their own separate categories but the international prize was in English.

The prize will be awarded on 5 October as part of the Wigtown Book Festival.

'Equal platform'

Marjorie Lotfi Gill, who chairs its 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."


Extract from Shiftin by Mhairi Owens

Ah seen the Cailleach

wakent bi

the lilac shades

o autumn cairies

flittin ower

her face.

The full poem is available on the Wigtown Poetry Prize website.


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