The Scottish Poetry Library is delighted to announce the winners of the 2017 John Mather Trust competition: Andrew Sclater and R.A. Davis.
The John Mather Trust, working with the SPL, offered poets based in the West of Scotland a chance to apply for two prizes of £500 to be spent on specific projects, such as: help to research or travel; with equipment; child-care and general living costs; or to enrol on a short course or pay a mentoring fee. To be eligible, poets had to have a collection published in the UK; or be a poet not yet published but who had demonstrated commitment and energy to developing his or her craft. They also had to be resident in the West of Scotland.
Our two winning poets proposed interesting projects and demonstrated talent that deserved support.
Andrew Sclater outlined a plan to visit libraries and arts venues throughout Dumfries and Galloway, where he will put on poetry events at interested venues ‘to give something back to this culture which has nourished me’, as he put it.
R.A. Davis’s project grows out of a period in his teens when he lived in north Wales. ‘I have always been fascinated by the linguistic heritage shared by Wales and lowland Scotland. The Britons of Strathclyde spoke Cumbric, a Brythonic language close to Old Welsh. A hint of this can still be heard in the Glasgow Scots word for ‘mouth’: ‘geggie’ – the Welsh word for ‘mouth’ being ‘geg’.’
Davis will use his prize to fund travel around Scotland, seeking out areas ‘where the Brythonic element in Scots might still resonate’, with the aim that it will ‘give my work the grounding in spoken language and place that I believe my poetry needs. I would like for my first collection to contain works exploring this Scots-Welsh element, perhaps even to the point of reconstructing or inventing language in place of a lost dialect.’
The John Mather Charitable Trust honours the memory of John Mather who rose from office boy to Chairman of the Clyde Port Authority. Mather had strong links with the arts in the West of Scotland, and the prize honours his legacy.
Both poets will make reports back to the Trust and the SPL on how they’ve spent their prizes and we look forward to learning how they develop.
Andrew Sclater, co-winner of
the 2017 John Mather Trust