Sheila Templeton - Judge's Comments      


First Prize     Sloe Jen        

This is such a well crafted poem. The Scots is lovely, consistent throughout. It's a pleasing shape on the page. There's excellent use of imagery...I can see, smell, touch these autumn sloe berries.  I like its light touch, delicacy, the way the poet has used the metaphor of gathering and pricking sloe berries (making sloe gin) to uncover the core of the poem...which is heartbreak. The season of the poem is autumn, approaching winter, an important part of the poem's metaphor. The poet has taken the reader on a journey, mysterious at first, then the last stanza with its short sharp words, a real 'shairp neb o a jag'...leaves us in no doubt. This is deepest mourning for a lost love. Sad and beautiful.



Highly Commended     Honi the Circle-Drawer    

Such a lot conveyed in a relatively short poem. The story of Honi, the Jewish scholar, holy man is long and involved, yet the poet has given us the essence, in five four-line stanzas. He's captured the despair of the man, his shame, his plight, even his relationship with his God...using Honi's voice in this monologue style poem. The Scots language used is simple, highly effective and with some lovely fresh imagery. 'Staurs sherpen inti beggar-bolts'  is a wonderful line.



Highly Commended     Revelled Thrums              

The title of this poem drew me from the start. 'Revelled Thrums'...tangled threads. It is a perfect title for the punchy, vigorous poem which follows, lamenting all the tangled threads on the loom of our current world, especially how television and media mimic real tragedy and serve up a diet which numbs true feeling. It's not a comfortable read...and all the better for that! An astute observation of our current world cannot be comfortable. It's also well crafted with an economy of well chosen Scots language and the three line stanza form conveys the tone of the poem perfectly.





Scots Prize Winner

Renita Boyle


Sloe Jen


Bide til the blackthorn aches wild

wi yon slaw loss o simmer days

heaves wechtie aneath its sloes

fou an ripe an roond

draik wi the cruin o the jenny wren

whase nest be empie nou


Bide til the wee-oors aifter

the first bite o frost appens thair skins

frees a treel o sweetness

intae blaikent gin skies

stains the speerit blae-black wi fledging

lang ago lullabies


Then gaither aw yon grief can bide

frae awantin him hame

preek yon hert wi the shairp neb o a jag

an lat it greet


Note: This poem shares its title with the linocut that inspired it- Sloe Jen by Lisa Hooper, Hoopoe Prints


Translation in English


Wait until the blackthorn aches wild

with the slow loss of summer days

heaves under the weight of its sloes

full and ripe and round

infused with the warbling of the jenny wren

whose nest lays empty now


Wait until the morning after

the first bite of frost splits their skins

releases a trill of sweetness

into pale gin skies

stains the spirit blue-black with fledging

long ago lullabies


Then gather all that your grief can bear

from wanting him home

prick your heart with the sharp beak of a thorn

and let it weep





Scots Prize Highly Commended

John Brewster


Honi the Circle-Drawer


Here A am, jyled ablow

a dwinin crescent mune,

wan unjynt circle girnin

at anither sune ti end.


Ye’d shak yer mane, Auld-Faither,

at ma donsie plicht, chacked

atween twa Jewish clans

at war wi weywart prophecy.


The furst circle A drew brocht rain,

drizzlin doun ma spirlie fraime

lik a lassie’s ankle breslet

loosens ringlets o chained bell.


Ay-de-mi, this warld’s nae hamecomin,

or a bairn’s hoop a messianic croon.

The desert’s mair line nor spaice nou,

shiftin wecht fae wind ti blawn-in man.


Gairds speir me fir spells: ti bed

a quine; heal a baundy-leggit loon.

Staurs sherpen inti beggar-bolts,

fit ti stane ma Rise-up-Jack banes.





Scots Prize Highly Commended

Jim Mackintosh


Revelled Thrums


yon skoddy notion o daein summit, ill-best,

                gaun tae War until yon Pointless Celebrity Jungle Factor

                                                distracts wir confeesed-like state o breathin


no mindin sanitised deid, random

                laser-precise deid, blastin ticks-in-boxes deid,

                                collateral daith-hampers contained in easy-tae-swally deid


no mindin media-friendly, manipulated, runkled auld deid

                drizzled ower the confection o wir normality deid, then

                                pre-recorded intae the glitterati pokes o pourit tributes


as long as yon daith-ruckle, yon aftershock, the rave

                disna tak up prime time, or ream-fu yer Sky Planner

                                                wi barrel bombs an corpies blank gawpin


else no oan the new carpet, or the chairs wi bocht

                in thon Farm Roup – braw bargains rocht fae deid - when life

                                wisna cheap but somehow noo it is – that’s the state o it


yet death-yirm, muffled in the trimmed settle o conscience

                we leave lyin’ oan mortal slabs, forlayin, sklims ower easy

                                through the blistered grille o wir false confessionals, tae ham-shackle us


an chaingin channels willna save ye fae the Deil Maister

                fir him, wha cares nuthin o the pleasantries o mourned daith

                                comes wi his ain remote control, an a Eternity to find yer Favourites