Reading by Award-winning Poet

By bellmannews / November 5, 2023

STONEHAVEN’S Doric poet, Alistair Lawrie will be reading from his recently published book at Stonehaven Library on Saturday November 18.

The 75-year-old retired English teacher has had his first volume of poems published – after winning one of Scotland’s most prestigious awards for Scots writing.

Alistair Lawrie seeks to inspire generations of pupils with his passion for poetry – especially in Doric. And now the former teacher  –  who taught at Mackie Academy – is gaining acclaim after winning the McLellan Scots Poetry Award 2023, and with the launch of his first book, Caal Cries.

Alistair, who grew up in Peterhead, is well known throughout the north-east for public readings of his poetry and as a founder of the Stonehaven-based writing group, Mearns Writers.

He will be reading from his book, published by Drunk Muse Press (drunkmusepress.com), at a launch event at Stonehaven Library on Saturday November 18 (2pm-3.20pm). Registration is required for this session which is part of Book Week Scotland 2023.

Alistair describes himself as a lover of “history, rock music, all kinds of fiction, beer, curry, tales and stories of all kinds but particularly like those he heard from old fishermen as a boy, Scotland, the surreal, the irreverent, subversion and the anarchic, words words words and poetry”. He said that as a teacher he’d tried to save poetry from “assassination by dullest overkill”.

In a long career, he taught English in Hamilton, Arbroath, Hawick, Stonehaven, and Cults. He also taught film studies, pop culture, media studies as well as running evening classes in the Stonehaven area for 20 years.

Alistair said: “I’ve spent my time since my retirement from teaching encouraging as many folk as I could to take up writing, to find the stories, the poetry in themselves, that is in all of us. Words are what we do. Have been since we started out, in our love, in our hates, in our reflections, in our anger and in our rituals in chants. As we march to war or rail against its waste, as we pray to our gods.

”I write in Doric and English, occasionally Scots. Each poem decides for itself which but the words and the rhythms of those voices I heard as a boy breathe their lilt through all of it.”

He added: ”The Doric is not merely for yesterday, the comical or the couthily nostalgic although it can do these things. It is as vigorously alive and as versatile in its use as the English or ony ither spik o real folk. Fit wye wid it nae be?”

Stonehaven-based poet and publisher Neil Young, whose Drunk Muse Press has published Alistair’s volume, said: “Alistair is long overdue recognition as one of the most significant poets writing in Scotland today. He draws on long life experience to write brilliantly on subjects as varied as memories of his Buchan childhood to war, history and mythology – whatever pings up on his radar. We’re very fortunate to have him right here on our doorstep.”

Copies of Caal Cries are available locally including from Arduthie Tea Rooms, Cool Gourmet, Giulianotti’s, The Villa and Tolbooth Museum.

Feature image – The striking cover illustration was commissioned from the artist Julia Mary Lawrie who is Alistair’s daughter