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Literature Ambassador #2: a Festival & a Competition

Wigtown Poetry Competition
Open for entry until 26 May 2017

Wigtown International Poetry Competition

is now open for entries from anyone in the world, until Friday 26 May 2017. There are three categories: Main (£1500), Scottish Gaelic (£250), and Scots (£250). The Scottish Poetry Library will read all poems submitted for the Main Prize, and create a short leet for the judge. This alone makes it worth entering if you are an emerging poet, and entering competitions is a good way of honing your skills, there’s nothing like knowing people are going to be reading, and judging your work to make you up your game. So, give it a go.

The judges are:

Main Category

Ryan Van Winkle is a poet, live artist, podcaster and critic living in Edinburgh. His second collection, The Good Dark, won the Saltire Society’s 2015 Poetry Book of the Year award. His poems have appeared in New Writing Scotland, The Prairie Schooner and The American Poetry Review. As a member of Highlight Arts he has organised festivals and translation workshops in Syria, Pakistan and Iraq. He was awarded a Robert Louis Stevenson fellowship in 2012 and a residency at The Studios of Key West in 2016.

Scottish Gaelic Category

Maoilios Caimbeul / Myles Campbell worked as a high-school Gaelic teacher and as a creative writing tutor in Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Skye Gaelic College, where he was writer in residence in 2008. Maoilios / Myles has published eight poetry collections, his latest  being Tro Chloich na Sùla (Clàr, 2014), and eight novels for young people. Awards for his poetry include Dunleary Fèile Filiochta (1998), National Mod Bardic Crown (2002) and Wigtown Poetry Competition (2008). His collection Bailtean was short-listed for the 1987 Saltire award. He is currently the Honorary Bard for the Gaelic Society of Inverness.

Scots Category

Matthew Fitt is an award-winning Scots poet. Author of the kenspeckle ‘Kate o Shanter’s Tale’ and ground-breaking ‘But n Ben A-Go-Go’ and co-founder of the Itchy Coo imprint, his work with Scots has revolutionised attitudes towards the language in Scotland’s schools. A former Brounsbank Writing Fellow and Writer in Residence at Greater Pollock, he regularly advises government, local authorities and the media on Scots language issues and policy development. He is the official Scots translator of the Asterix series and for the Scottish Parliament.

Last Year’s Main Prize Winner was Garry MacKenzie (to read his poem go here). Here’s the runner-up:

Marjorie Lotfi Gill



– my Muslim grandmother’s words when giving a crucifix to my Methodist mother in Tehran


It doesn’t matter that she’s blonde,

doesn’t know a single word of Farsi,

or how to taarof, always refuse first,

before accepting a gift.


what you believe is your own trouble;

not one of us understands all the words

of our mother tongue. Look at the eye,

my father told me, watch it speak.


as long as you are here, I will be shelter.


believe in something: your hands pressed

together, palm to palm, are my body folded

into the namaz; each of us maps ourselves

in the mirror, measures what we already know.


Big Lit 2017 (20-23 April)

We are lucky to have lots of literary goings on in Dumfries and Galloway, and Big Lit is shaping up to be one of the best. This, in their own words, is what visitors can expect this year:
  BIG LIT is now in its 7th year.  What began life as a modest festival-in-a-day is now a mighty four day festival of wall to wall events, featuring literature in all its cunning guises. This year we are delighted to headline the gloriously funny ‘People’s Potato’, John Hegley, who will entertain both the young, and young at heart. Local award winning novelist Karen Campbell returns to lead another cutting edge workshop for writers while charismatic broadcaster and performer Billy Kay explores the Scottish Diaspora and its influence on wine! With optional wine to follow! We have music (ancient and modern), prose (historical, mythical and biographical), poetry (political, lyrical and personal), a horrid literary murder for you to solve at Cream o’Galloway (gory, gruesome and grisly), installation, heritage, text based art-work, exhibition, installation, and a timely Scottish PEN event featuring exiled Bafta award winning Palestinian poet Ghazi Hussein who has found refuge from torture in Scotland. Not to mention the BIG LIT young people’s strand offering something for all ages – from literary drumming and daft poyems to games, crafts and madcap story telling. Thanks to the support of The Scottish Book Trust, The Holywood Trust, our wonderful volunteer labour and other project funders we are once again hosting some of the finest writers, musicians and performers both local and national. Hope you have a wonderful time.

Best wishes, Chrys Salt MBE
Artistic Director of the Bakehouse
Convener of BIG LIT: The Stewartry Book Festival 2017.

To see the program and book tickets go to the Big Lit website.


3 thoughts on “Literature Ambassador #2: a Festival & a Competition

    1. I wish I did too, or, rather, I wish I wrote prize winning poetry. That prize would double my annual income!

      I have to confess I had to google short leet myself. Every day’s a school day.


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