Print

The Poetry Hat; Piano Lesson; Flat Out;: Poems & Tales in Scots & English, Lochlands, Maud, 2015, 2015, 2016, 38pp., 26pp. 28pp.;

Cheerybye Eden: Tales an Owersetts in Scots & English; The Cloud Collector: Poems & Story in Scots & English; The Wound Man: Poems in Scots & English, Lochlands, Maud, 2016, 2015, 2015, 27pp., 30pp. 34pp.; all titles by Sheena Blackhall, £3.00.

At the back o Cheerybye Eden is a wheen o reviews o Sheena Blackhall's wark. Alan Spence cries her 'probably the most prolific poet in Scotland, and one of the most rarely talented', while Joy Hendry claims that she has 'the lyric voice of the early MacDiarmid'. There's nae doot that, as Derrick McClure says, she has extended 'the scope of Doric poetry' and also 'enlarged its literary range by using it for short stories and novellas…'. In the abuin-mentioned pamphlet is 'The Arching Scythe: A Biography of a Scots Childhood', which gies a fair insicht intil the makar, wha was born in 1947 at Cuperstone Nursing Home and wis, according til her mither Winifred, 'the ugliest bairn on the ward'. It's a bittie sad that Winifred, a 'highly intelligent woman' , didna fufill her ambitions tae be a publisht author or a teacher. Her faither, Charles Middleton, didna get tae extend his education either. Par for the course in thae days, mair's the peetie. They're o byornar interest, the 22 pages that bring her til Primary 7 and the dreided 11+, and there are fine poems amang the prose. At the end we hae this laist verse o 'Homage to the Ancestors':

Many wombs opened before my coming.
Quiet door in the spirit house on the moor
Where grandmother's ghost is weaving a wooden cradle
So she may nurse my bones

Lovely stuff.

I dinna hae eneuch room tae gie muckle mair. As a matter o interest gin ye'd read aa o her poems they are noo available at www.poemhunter.com and her website is http://smiddleton4.wix.com/sheena-blackhall. I'll feenish wi the first stanzas o the eponymous 'Flashback (Barn door Fadlydyke)',tae shaw hoo fine her touch is in the Doric, in case ye dinna already ken:

Forkit lichtnin cracks the Heivens in twa
Lichtnin the pit-merk ferm, celestial fire
Aa nicht the storm dinged on…a hard doonfaa
Ram stam the rain, stottin aff barn-cum byre

Flashback, afore the snawy hoolet screeched
Laird o the teem derk crannies o the barn
Afore the chaumer rikk deed in the lum
Far jackdaas reest noo, sentinels o sharn

A rare talent indeed.

Raymond Vettese