Monthly Archive: August 2015

Edinburgh International Book Festival event

Catriona M & me 29 Aug 2015 EIBF

Catriona Macdonald and me at our Kalevala EIBF event

A commission from EIBF to translate part of a major epic into Shetlandic and create a performance for the festival resulted in a wonderful experience for me: a chance to collaborate with Catriona Macdonald.  She is a great exponent, teacher and performer of traditional fiddle music, and we had fun creating a performance out of four stories from ‘The Kalevala’, the Finnish compendium of folk tales.

I used the scholarly English translation by Keith Bosley as a bridge, with the kind permission of OUP.  We had no idea what the audience would think of it, particularly any Finns!   But they seemed to enjoy it as much as we did.

Makar on holiday!

Sea kayaking, Shetland

Grand-niece Molly Nicolson and I sea-kayaking in Shetland. Photo courtesy of Sea Kayak Shetland

What does a Makar do when not Makar-ing?  A spot of kayaking?

(Had a lovely holiday in Shetland.)

Ivery day, reboarn
Rönas Voe

Wir prammed ithin kayaks, peerie waavellin
wirlds, tensed tae da ocean.   Canyoned abön,
Rönas Hill slips by, haddin her entombed haert:
red granite aawye, slow revelation fae da dark.

Ice is steepened her face, da sea roughed her up.
Daday, i da cleft o her voe, Atlantic masons
salist; but hammer an chisel still at da ready
ta taper a pillar, sklent a stack, cloor oot a cave.

Is dis a game der set for wis, ta waeve atween,
dodge danger? Watter swittles an swinkles,
slaps affa da side o da craft, tilts her;
wir sense o depth is in a snurl: hit’s lik

wearin someen idder’s glesses. We mak on
wir wint wi aeons, ken whaar wir gyaain,
can defy danger. Wir seen shappit baas afore,
taen risks. But dis is laernin ta see things

a different wye. We scrimp trowe dark cracks
inta da licht, lugs tuned tae da snush
an snyirk o da sea, da lap, da gentle clap.
Lie back, hadd in your paddle, pass trowe

da eye o da needle, nug trowe da dark trenkie,
kyistit, while da tide’s low, while der a meenit.
Look deep time i da eye, resoond your faerlessness
as hit comes in apön you, aa but trottles you.

Dig in, poo troo, keep her trim; come oot
da tidder side, inta da blue, smilin.