Writing Contemporary Scottish Fiction

Poetry and Prizes

We live in exciting times!

I am thrilled to announce that I have won a prize. And it’s for poetry.

Now let me be clear. I am not a poet. I have had one poem published in The Eildon Tree, a Scottish creative writing magazine. But I can assure you that was a blip. Poetry is decidedly not my strong suit. But who doesn’t like a challenge?

And so it was, when browsing Twitter (novel editing avoidance) that I saw the novelist Liam McIlvanney had set just such a challenge. Now, Liam himself is no slouch when it comes to the written word. Son of the estimable Willie (father of the Tartan Noir genre with his seminal novel, Laidlaw) Liam won the McIlvanney Prize last year with his novel The Quaker.

He is Professor of Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Otago in NZ and has the enviable ability to weave words together, creating pacey, yet spellbinding text. Having met Liam (and fed him Florentines – but that’s another story) I was keen to meet the challenge.

The brief was simple. Using the nonsense poem Algy met a bear as an example, we were exhorted to write something similar. For those unfamiliar with the poem, often attributed to Ogden Nash, it reads,

Algy met a bear.

The bear met Algy.

The bear was bulgy.

The bulge was Algy

“It’s harder than you think,” he warned us and indeed it was.

I wandered the house, muttering rhymes to myself then inspiration dawned. I would take a postmodern approach and break the rules.  And so, I proudly present my joint prize-winning entry (the honours being shared with another contributor):

Liam met a truck

The truck met Liam

The truck went pheeeeeeuummm (Doppler effect)

The pheeeeeuummm was Liam!

(Apologies – I’ll send flowers)

The prize was a signed copy of Liam’s gripping novel, The Quaker, and a bookmark, to boot!  All the way from New Zealand, it has pride of place on my bookshelves and I am considering a switch from crime fiction to nonsense poetry. After all, as a Dundonian, I hail from the same city as the stunningly awful poet, William Topaz McGonagall. Acknowledged widely as the worst poet writing in the English language, I think he and I would make an excellent team. If I could just find a rhyme for Orange …



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