Monday, May 04, 2009

Wigtown Weekend

I'm back from an interesting weekend away in Scotland in Wigtown. If you ever happen to find yourself in this part of the world, you couldn't do better than the warmth and comfort of Brora Lodge, a family run B&B, where nothing is too much trouble and their breakfast is simply the yummiest out.

After a long journey on Friday, Saturday proved to be really sunny: all the visiting poets brought good weather with them. The awards took place in the main hall in Wigtown, and all us prizewinners were pleased to be given a few words by Douglas Dunn, the judge, about how he chose the poems. Quite simply, he picked the ones that he liked best: that were original and that appealed to things he knew in an unusual manner. Douglas spoke of the judging process requiring "monastic conditions" (solitude and a helpful dram) to get through, but that it was an enjoyable honour to read all these poems.

Then, we were all asked to read our poems, in reverse order, as well as the Gaelic winner. Afterwards we were invited to join everyone for a celebratory Angus beef dinner, at the Writer's Retreat, with Alistair Reid, the translator and poet, and all prizewinners, judges and organisers. I felt so honoured to be in such great and illustrious company and I was minded to distraction all weekend by the good folk of the Wigtown festival: Davie, Adrian, Catherine, Ann... I'm sure I've missed someone!

I also had the great pleasure of chatting to the Gaelic winner, Tormad Caimbeul and his beautiful daughter, Catriona, about the pleasures and difficulties of writing in their wonderful language, as well as the similarities to Irish. The craic was mighty, as they say here in Ireland, and it was a great weekend away.

A wee hey-out to Jim, Mora, Rob, Victor, Tormad and Caitriona - so good to meet you all, may you go on to even greater heights.

13 comments:

Clare Dudman said...

Ooh, that sounds great, Barbara! I've often thought about going to the Wigtown Festival - so the Brora Lodge recommendation may well come in very handy!

Eimear said...

Congrats, Barbara - glad you had such a good time!

BarbaraS said...

If you're going Clare, you'd need to book now! They get very full in Wigtown v. quickly.

Eimear, thanks very much - there's a lot of winning going on in the blogosphere, a big congrats on your own Hennessy award: bigger and brighter things await.

Kay said...

Sounds like a wonderful, wonderful time - I am very pleased to hear it. 'Til the next one!

apprentice said...

Congratulation again Barbara! I'm glad you had a lovely time. It is a lovely wee town and the Solway landscape is pretty and very unique - throwing up an amazing light from all that water.

Here's to more success!

BarbaraS said...

Thanks A, I was very lucky in that the weather was so kind. Wigtown is actually quite sheltered, as it's bay and harbour face round to the east. You wouldn't believe how well it looks in the sunshine.

Frances said...

Sounds a great event Barbara. Well deserved honour too.

BarbaraS said...

Cheers Frances, it was a nice break away from 'de fambly' as we say here

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Aren't Scottish people lovely?! I lived there for a year - one of the nicest places I've lived.
Sounds like you got a lovely welcome.

ona said...

Really delighted for you, Barbara. Hope you have many more prizewinning weekends

BarbaraS said...

Yes, N, they are pretty good, although there were many English people there too, being welcoming. I love the way Scots people pronounce the word 'poem.' It sounds as though they revere them.

Ona, thanks for dropping by and thanks for your thanks. Will drop by you and say hello.

Debi said...

So very proud of you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Barbara, I loved talking to yo in Wigtown. What a lovely place! I've been going through all myu poems. Most are embarrassing, some very. But there are a fair number that I love, whether they deserve it or not.

When is your new collection due out? and who from? and what will it be called?

Rob (Foxcroft, Glasgow)