Northwords Now

New writing, fresh from Scotland and the wider North
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Census: Sock Knitter

by Barbara Johnston

Ah’ll hae tae light the lamp soon
The peedie window is fur no use
I need tae feeneesh this sock afore bed
Me fingers aer sore and reed
The oo is coorse cumman off the wires
Moorit broon, hid’s haerd tae see the loops
I wish I could dae a soft lacy shaal
Bit no berns fur me
Lizzie’s been blissed wae three
Haer wark’s more lightsome than mine
Baekan, hingan oot washeen
Feedan haens, wurkan in the haey
I sit here at the window an knit
Hid’s coorse on me eyes
Ahll need thick glesses like Celia soon
Shae’s nearly blind
Bides in a fine hoose in the toon
Surrounded bae books
I wish I hid time an light tae read
I wish, I wish I hid oo in bonny culurs
A shaal tae keep oot the draft on a winter night
Hoo minny socks hae I tae knit afore hid’s enough?
Maggie an Nell got away – off tae Canada
Hoo minny socks for a passage across
A new life full o possibilities?
I wish…

Orkney Voices

The Orkney Voices Group as hid is noo wis started at the beginneen o 2018. The aim o hid wis tae mak a spaece whaar Orcadian spaekers could finnd weys o writan and spaekan aboot writeen.

The idea grew oot o a Scottish PEN project, Many Voices, that encouraged different marginalised groups ower Scotland tae finnd thir voices in creative writeen classes.

At the end o the project, the fokk in the Orkney group wanted tae keep gan, so the George Mackay Fellowship (GMBF) agreed tae tak is under thir umbrella. Wir supported be Orkney Library & Archive and Orkney Islands Council Culture Fund.

At the end o last year, efter meetan throughoot 2020 and 2021 online, we launched a collection o wark fae the members:Gousters, Glims and Veerie-orums, as the George Mackay Brown Centenary publication fae the GMBF. This haes led tae invitations tae read at a variety o events. In the next few months we will be appearing at Orkney Nature Festival, Orkney Folk Festival and St Magnus International Festival.

Gousters, Glims and Veerie-orums, price £10, is available to buy from Orkney Bookshops, Stromness Books & Prints,Tel: 01856 850565; and The Orcadian Bookshop, including online sales from their website:

The poems in this group are from members of the Orkney Voices Group.

Census: Sock KnitterPoem by Barbara Johnston
Island lifePoem by Sheila Garson
On the RoadPoem by Vera Butler
Recipe For a Good StormPoem by Ingrid Grieve
The NuggetPoem by Lorraine Bruce
The Weather Dance Poem by Greer Norquoy
Whit wir ye thinkan?Poem by Issy Grieve

Northwords Now acknowledges the vital support of Creative Scotland and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
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