Shards: Poems & Tales in Scots & English bi Sheena Blackhall Lochlands, Maud, 2013, 30pp., £3.00

Sheena Blackhall can aye be relied on tae skrieve wice verses an cannie tales, an the wark gaithert here is nae exception. She can fairly bring the past tae ramstam life, as thir lines frae her poem on Jenny Geddes shaw yince yon cuttie stool steirs things up:

Like wasps cowped their nest in a fine fizz
Like doonpish frae a nicht o storm an grue
The hale hypothec focht like scaldit cats
Wi Bible 'stead o steens as missiles haived

There's an article, 'Scrievin in Scots', that gies a guid insicht intil the wey the leid wis lookit doon upon, at least aince upon a time, in the schuils o Scotland, an the effect o that on her: 'Sae Inglis wis cauld, a dominie spik, doon-pitten wi a 'ca-cannie' feel aboot it. Fur a lang time I didna spikk muckle in skweel, bit I drew a lot. Naebody leuch at a drawin'.

That laist line totes a wecht o sadness. Hoo monie dreed that same shame, the sense that their words were dozent, and sae were they! Oniewey, she gings on tae tell hoo she got a poem in Inglis in The Press and Journal an hoo the late Dauvit Ogston sent her a letter o congratulations, but also spierin: 'fit wye are ye screivin in Inglis an nae in Scots?'. Noo, acoorse, she can mak the words o baith leids dance til her biddin:

Tribal processions enter the porch of my thought
Grandfather, wiping his beery whiskers
Grandmother, counting the days since her last bleed
Their grandparents, carrying on the tracks of ghostly footprints

(Frae 'Tribal Processions')

Braw stuff, as ever.

Raymond Vettese