Monday, April 25, 2011

Arise Sons of the Selgovae

Great recent news about successes for Dumfries and Galloway writers. Hugh Bryden's Roncadora Press has been shortlisted for the Michael Marks Publishers Prize, as well as being on the Callum MacDonald shortlist for Jean Atkin's beautiful pamphlet 'Lost at Sea'. JoAnne McKay appears too for the lovely 'Venti'.

D and G has a growing list of nationally recognised writers, an imaginative and energetic new publisher, good venues, thriving writing groups, one of the best poetry festivals, and a new and ambitious magazine in Southlight.

The successes are partly down to a succession of very good literature officers, but also as a result I think of the place itself, its history, its strange mix of the wild, the agricultural and the semi-urban. Is there a homogeneous Dumfries and Galloway voice? Nope, but then there never has been. Loads of people are born here, or come here and make stuff up. Sounds good to me, and not just in terms of literature but the visual arts, music etc. We're on a roll, ladies and gentlemen. Or should I say ladies?

One problem that needs to be addressed in terms of literature, certainly poetry, is lack of men in the area, especially younger adult men, who see writing as a valid way to express themselves. They do at school, plenty of boys in 'The Kist' and the Moat Brae Anthology 'The Grass Cloud' for instance, but then they seem to stop. Wonder why? Is there a stigma? Or have we created a situation where the 'male voice', if there is such a thing, is unwelcome? Has poetry gradually become the preserve of women? I remember a poetry review where Kate Clanchy reviewed three male poets in tandem, as if they weren't individuals, but rather three parts of the same rather embarrassing and unsavoury whole.

Any hope for the 'Sons of the Selgovae'? Discuss.


hope said...

Should I wait for a man to comment first? ;)

Okay, WV is "descus".

Titus said...

My only contribution is that the most serious poets in my year on the Glasgow Uni Creative Writing MLitt are all male.
I'm not male, serious or young.

renaissancewoman said...

I used to argue with more the fervent feminists among my friends that we needed to love our men and boys even whilst we were setting the world to rights for ourselves and our girls - people can't be creative if they feel their thoughts and feelings are somehow unwelcome. Perhaps it's become too hard for boys to express their natural selves once they hit puberty ?

cotman said...

I notice all responses so far are female.

Rachel Fox said...

Maybe they've all just gone to the big cities while they're young. I know I did... and I am a bit male I think. They'll be back when they're old and tired and need space to recuperate.