Congratulations to Christie Williamson who have been nominated in Scots Writer o the Year sponsored by Creative Scotland in the Scots Language Awards 2020. Vote now!
We asked Christie Williamson the following questions.
Tell us aboot yersel or yer ootfit.
A’m a Shaetlan poyit wha’s bed in Glasgow fur near eneoch twa decades noo. A’m been a member o St Mungo’s Mirrorball an on da committe fur a good few year an a’m currently servin on da board o da Scottish Writers’ Centre. I do scrieve in Ingleesh on occasion, but as faur as poyims is concerned mi Shaetlan eens is vastly preferred bi readers, editors an listeners alaek. I love readin mi wark oot, an I maun say I miss hit a lock. Zoom is okay sae faur as hit geengs, but I yearn fur da day whan hit’s safe ta hae a richt owld shindig wi poyits an music an drams an dancin.
Whit wis it got ye involvit wi the Scots leid?
I grew up in Shaetlan, an I spokk da wye I spaek. I started at da skül in 1981, an wis lucky in dat mawst o mi teachers, certainly in Yell, wis Shaetlan fokk – mony o dem involved i da dialect. Da days whan you’d gjit da belt fur spaekin da wye you spokk wis lang by – I think corporal punishment wis still technically legal but I neddir got hit nor kent onybody at did. Fur aa dat, da heidie kept a strap at he wid shaa you syne your mind needed focussin! Bidin sooth, mi internal narrative wis in Shaetlan an hit very rarely fan hit’s wye oot – mibbe on da phone tae Mam an Dad, or whan I saa mi briddir in Edinburgh, but mawst o da time dir wis dis tension atween whit wis atil mi heid an whit cam oot me moo. An dat linguistic tension fan hit’s resolve in poyitry. At first I choost scratched hit doon in nawtbooks an read hit ta pals in da pub or at pairties. Hit wis Louise Welsh wha encouraged me, eftir spaekin at a discussion group caaed ‘da Gas Board’ at I gied tae, tae a) read mair poyitry an b) start readin mi ain poyims oot lood. I wis surprised, as a fairly experienced actor at da time, fu nerve wrackin hit wis da first few times I read in public, but mercy me whitna buzz. Pretty sjøn I wis hooked an choost flung mesel at hit. An still I fling!
Ony particlar career heighlichts?
Fairly airly in mi poyitry journey I wis in a Fringe show wi Moving Parts, a Wester Hailes baesd theatre group at wis a core pert o mi cultural upbringin. Wi wir devisin a play on da life an wark o Federico Garcia Lorca. Corinne Harris, wha wrat an directed hit, bowt me a gless o wine eftir ee rehearsal an axed wid I makk Shaetlan versions o da Lorca poyims. I didna keen much aboot translation, but kent I could makk poyims oot o da Shaetlan tongue, an kent at da raa material of Lorca’s wark wis hot stuff indeed!
A couple o year doon da line an a selection o dem wis pit oot bi Hansel Co-operative Press, in a really stunnin pamphlet wi original illustrations bi da Orkney artist Diana Leslie. An did hit no geeng an win da Calum MacDonald Memorial Award! Dat wis wan o da nichts o mi life, bein up agin some really massive nems. Dey say dese things dunna mettir. Weel, dey ony mettir if you win dem.
Mair recently I wis bidden tae perform at a muckle festival in Granada, Nicaragua. Hit wis da first time I’d ivvir read ootside da UK, an da first time I’d ivvir set fit ayont Europe. Dey wir a partnership event in New York City at I gied tae on da wye. Hit railly wis a hale iddir wirld, an ta keen at your wark wirks ayont da smaa wirld o Scottish poyitry is pretty speeshil.
Wha’s yer plans fir the days aheid?
At da meenit a’m wirkin on a project lookin at mi faimilies past, on mi Mam’s side. I mind eftir mi first collection, ‘Oo an Feddirs’ wis published I took a brakk fae makkin poyims, so I could enjoy haein dat book oot in da wirld. Whan ‘Doors tae Naewye’ cam oot airlier dis year hit wis different. A’m aafil blyde aboot hit, an canna waet tae haal hit aboot da plaes, but a’m enjoyin stretchin mi practise in twa directions – tryin tae geeng faurdir ayont mi Shaetlan heritage tae explore an deepen connections wi iddir perts o da wirld, an gjaan faurdir back atil da origins o dat rich culture wioot which I wid hae nawtheen.
Read more about Christie Williamson
The Scots Language Awards 2020 will be online at www.scotslanguageawards.com. We will have a mixture of events on the 23rd / 24th October. Performing at the Award on Saturday 24th September will be Gerda Stevenson, Gary Robertson, Shona Donaldson and Jim Malcolm.
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