One of the reliable highlights of the calendar for the Library is the publication in the spring of Best Scottish Poems, an annual online anthology of the year’s best poems written by a Scottish poet or poet based in Scotland. Each year the anthology is edited by a different person. Past editors have included Jen Hadfield, Alan Spence and Janice Galloway.
We are delighted to announce that the editor of Best Scottish Poems 2019 is Roseanne Watt.
Roseanne Watt is a poet, filmmaker and musician from Shetland. She is currently poetry editor for The Island Review and was the winner of the 2015 Outspoken Poetry Prize (Poetry in Film) and runner-up in the 2018 Aesthetica Creative Writing Award. In 2018, her debut collection Moder Dy won the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award; Moder Dy is also nominated for the 2018 Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year Award. She lives and works in Edinburgh.
For 2019, the way in which the guest editor selects her shortlist of 20 poems is a little different. In the past editors have read every book, pamphlet and literary magazine in search of great Scottish poems. It was a mammoth task. In recognition of that, we’ve lightened the editor’s burden. From now on, guest editors will read a longlist of roughly 300 poems chosen by Library staff and volunteers; they’ve spent the past few months combing publications for poems to present to Watt.
So, in December, Watt will be handed a folder full of poems from which she will choose 20 that will comprise Best Scottish Poems 2019. It’s our intention to publish BSP 2019 in March.
Watt says, ‘It is a huge honour to be judging this year’s Best Scottish Poems, though I am very aware that a daunting task lies ahead of me. The anthologies of previous years are testament to the quality and vitality of Scottish poetry; 2019 has certainly continued this trend. The winter months are for burying under, contemplation and staying warm; I can think of no finer way to achieve this than through reading the best of the year’s poetry.’
And there’s more. For the first time, Best Scottish Poems will have Gaelic and Scots editors too. We’re delighted to announce our Gaelic language editor will be Niall O’Gallagher, while Derek Ross is our Scots editor. They will each choose two poems in addition to Watt’s shortlist, showcasing poems written in Gaelic and Scots.
Niall O’Gallagher received a New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust / Gaelic Books Council to work on his first collection of poems, Beatha Ùr, published by Clàr in 2013. This was followed by Suain nan Trì Latha (Clàr, 2016). A third collection is due in 2020. Niall is poetry editor of the Gaelic journal STEALL. In 2019 he was named Bàrd Baile Ghlaschu, the city of Glasgow’s first Gaelic laureate.
O’Gallagher says, ‘It’s a rich, vibrant time for Gaelic poetry in Scotland, with new writers breaking through and established poets doing some of their most ambitious work. Choosing between them won’t be easy but it’ll be a pleasure to enjoy this year’s crop of new Gaelic poems.’
Derek Ross is a Gallovidian from Stranraer but has lived in Dumfries for many years. His work has appeared in many magazines and anthologies. His poems in Scots have been featured by The Scots Language Centre, The Scottish Poetry Library, Scots podcasts, The Stanza Poetry Map of Scotland and the Channel 4 program Haud Yer Tongue. He is also a keen photographer and has collaborated with the Gaelic poet Angus McMillan to produce exhibitions combining poetry and photography.
Ross says, ‘A wis delichted tae be asked tae the Scots leid editor fir BSP 2019. It’ll no be easy, but a’m lookin forrit tae it. The Scots leid is no the property o academics, it is a leevin leid, it is oor leid, it defines wha we are.’
We’d like to thank each of our editors and the volunteers without whom we could not bring you Best Scottish Poems. Keep watching the website and our social media for further news of Best Scottish Poems.