Christine De Luca (née Pearson) was born and raised in Shetland and now lives in Edinburgh, having moved in the 1960s to study at Edinburgh University. She has worked as a teacher, was the city’s Makar between 2014 to 2017 and been an active member of Shore Poets for many years.
Despite her cosmopolitan status, she remains strongly associated with, and involved in, the culture of the Northern Isles, most notably as an advocate of the Shetlandic native tongue, inflected with Old Scots, English and Norse influences, alongside remnants of Norn, the extinct language of those islands.
She is one of the founders of the Hansel Co-operative Press which was established to promote literary and artistic work in Shetland and Orkney and written texts for teaching Shetland children, having produced stories in dialect for different age groups, including her debut novel, And Then Forever, in 2011.
De Luca’s poetry is also often written in Shetlandic, with English translations. The Shetland Library brought out De Luca’s first three collections between 1994 and 2002, two of which won the Shetland Literary Prize (since discontinued) and Luath Press published two more collections between 2005 and 2010. Dat Trickster Sun, published by Mariscat Press in 2014, was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlets.
She also collaborates with authors on translation of poetry between languages, including bilingual editions of her own poems into French (Mondes Parallèles, 2007), Italian (Trickster Sunas Questo sole furfante, 2015), Icelandic (Heimferðir/Haemfarins, translated by Aðalsteinn Ásberg Sigurðsson, 2017) and Norwegian (Glimt av opphav/Glims o origin, translated by Odd Goksøyr, 2017).
In turn, De Luca has translated the work of other poets into Shetlandic and is particularly interested in links with Nordic countries. In 2021, a translation of poems by the Portuguese poet Eugenio de Andrade was published, with English translations by Alexis Levitin and Shetlandic translations by De Luca alongside illustrations by John Cumming, called The Art of Poetry and Other Poems.
Working with Kyra Pollit, De Luca translated the work of the deaf poet Gary Quinn from British Sign Language into English and Shetland dialect.
De Luca’s poetry collection Plain Song (2002) was accompanied by a CD of poems read by the author, and she has collaborated with jazz musician Tommy Smith, and the traditional Scottish fiddler Catriona Macdonald, whereby she read passages from ancient Finnish mythology translated into Shetlandic as a live performance. She has also worked with the Scottish artist Victoria Crowe on a pamphlet of poems and paintings titled, Another Time, Another Place (2021).
Her latest collections in both Shetlandic and English are Northern Alchemy (2020) and Veeve (2021). De Luca’s poetry remains well-regarded among her contemporaries, Tom Pow described Veeve as ‘alive with outward-looking, generous poems’ and Jim Mainland found it to be ‘newsy, good company, optimistic and celebratory’.