Thursday, January 10, 2008

Christie Williamson Poem

Christie Williamson will be reading at the Great Grog Bar on February 10th (I’ve just added his bio to the post below). I’m very pleased to feature one of his poems, written in Shetland dialect, which was commended in the Wigtown Poetry Competition 2007. It’s a very good poem and I hope you enjoy it.

Some readers might feel immediately daunted by the dialect, but once you get going, it’s not too difficult, and well worth engaging with. Du = you, de/da = the, aa = all, laek = like, hit = it. Just to start you off.

I'd be interested in comments on how anyone unfamiliar with Shetlandic dialect (I guess that means most of us) found reading this poem.


Whit does du tink hit means
wi de faunsy wirds
an de slack smile,
been wi aabuidy
gyaan naewhaar
laek da mapmakker
draain da hert o Shanghai
gittin lost
atween Dim Sum
an fresh lychees;
laek da accoontant
blaain aa his credit
an losin his cheenge
atween livin free
an deein aald;
laek da merchant
grown fat
on shakkin his heid
wirkin aathin oot
keepin aathin in;
laek da kind voice
hearin ay hoo it’s wrang
seein ay hoo it’s richt
keepin ay oot a sicht;
laek da queek tongue
firin verbal bullets
at conceptual targets
troo a funnellin telescopic gless;
laek da ivy
feelin hit’s wye
ee step faurder itae da wid
ivvery day
no keenin whit threatens hit
ony whit keeps hit alive.

.......... - Christie Williamson, 2007


Crafty Green Poet said...

I like the Shetlandic dialect and don't find it difficult to read. I do tend to read it aloud though to get the sense better. I wouldn't say I'm over familiar with it, I've only visited Shetland once.

Larry said...

It has a distinct regional flavor for me, which my mind proccesses as rural, pre-industrial, colorful, bawdy. It forces me to regard the speaker as though reading in some rugged country costume and distracts me away from a direct attention to the words' meaning - which have nothing to do, as far as I can understand, with the sterotypes I attach to their "accent".