One of delights in returning home to Scotland twenty years ago was to discover a renaissance in its arts flourishing across the board. Having left in 1971 when the Cringe seemed the most fashionable garb among those with artistic ambition, perhaps the most refreshing among many positive aspects of my return, the Scottish Poetry Library (still hidden then down Tweeddale Court) spoke volumes for the new attitude—global in outlook; rooted in the local culture.
Among the more memorable creatives I met while rummaging amidst my cultural roots there was an inventive voice from the North Isles who greatly impressed me. Whether writing in Shetland or Scots dialect or in ordinary English, Christine de Luca impressed me with her ability to forge simple, direct words into poetry that cleaved through Gordian knots of mumbling thought. To find her now acknowledged as a full-fledged makkar and new “Poet Laureate for Edinburgh” is no surprise…but a sheer delight nonetheless.
As with her other work, her first poem in her new role (published in today’s Hootsmon) is deceptively simple. But—like Scotland—it reaches far beyond our borders and even the watershed decision in two weeks towards a measured, balanced perspective to follow of which her country-men and -women will be justifiably proud.
The Morning After:
Scotland, 19th September 2014
Let none wake despondent: one way or another we have talked plainly, tested ourselves, weighed up the sum of our knowing, ta’en tent o scholars, checked the balance sheet of risk and fearlessness, of wisdom and of folly.
Was it about the powers we gain or how we use them? We aim for more equality; and for tomorrow to be more peaceful than today; for fairness, opportunity, the common weal; a hand stretched out in ready hospitality.
It’s those unseen things that bind us, not flag or battle-weary turf or tartan. There are dragons to slay whatever happens: poverty, false pride, snobbery, sectarian schisms still hovering. But there’s nothing broken that’s not repairable.
We’re a citizenry of bonnie fighters, a gathered folk; a culture that imparts, inspires, demands a rare devotion, no back-tracking; that each should work and play our several parts to bring about the best in Scotland, an open heart.
© Christine de Luca, 2014