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Promoting Creative Writing in Scotland


Poet of the Month

Rab Wilson


Rab Wilson lives in New Cumnock, with his wife Margaret and daughter Rachel.  Rab has been writing poetry for most of his adult life.

His major work to date is his ‘owersettin’, in Scots, of the famous medieval Persian work ‘The Ruba’iyat of Omar Khayyam’.  The late Prof. Philip Hobsbaum has described this work as ‘an astonishing feat!’  It has also garnered praise from luminaries such as Edwin Morgan, Prof. Douglas Gifford and Prof. Willie Maley.  This work has been published in book form by ‘Luath Press’ of Edinburgh.  Wigtown Booktown Company, as part of their promotions for the bookfair, had a version of Rab’s ‘Omar Khayyam’ made, which is currently the biggest poetry book in the world, measuring 10ft X 4ft.  His work has appeared regularly in some of the leading Scots poetry magazines (Lallans, The Dark Horse) and newspapers (The Herald’s ‘poem of the day’ column, Independent on Sunday).  Extracts form a new work, ‘owersettins’ of the Roman poet Horace’s First Book of Satires, have been published recently by Scotland’s leading cultural publication, Chapman Magazine of Edinburgh.


Having been one of the recipients of the McCash Poetry Prize in 2003 and 2004, Rab won it in 2008.  The McCash Poetry prize is Scotland’s premier poetry competition, run annually by the Herald newspaper and GlasgowUniversity.  In October 2005 he delivered the annual William Soutar Lecture at A.K. Bell library in Perth, as part of Perth and Kinross’s The Word’s Out Festival.


He is an innovative user of new technology and has completed a video film of a new sonnet sequence that he has written, entitled Cormilligan – written in Sonnet Redouble form and recording an episode of the Lowland Victorian diaspora as seen through the eyes of an actual Dumfriesshire family, based on true historical events.  He has also completed a CD ROM of poems and images relating to the passing of Scotland’s deep mining industry, entitled Poems n’ Pits, creating an important social and cultural document of part of Scotland’s industrial heritage which has all but disappeared during the last ten years.





The Ruba'iyat Of Omar Khayyam In Scots


Transformed into Lowland Scots, Rab Wilson's version of the 'Ruba'iyat' changes the backdrop from medieval Persia to modern urban Scotland, where a teeming underclass tell of their regrets, joys and hopes, and realise that essentially nothing has changed since the 'Ruba'iyat' was first written.




Accent O The Mind: Poems, Chiefly In The Scots Language

The 'Mither o aa Pairlaments'? A sham! They've ne'er jaloused in mair's fowr hunner years, Whit maitters maist is whit's atween yer ears!

The joy, the pain, the fear, the anger and the shame - topical and contemporary, and mostly in vibrant Scots, this is Scottish poetry at its best. Encompassing history, text messaging, politics, asylum-seeking hedgehogs and Buckfast, Rab Wilson covers the variety of modern Scottish life through refreshingly honest and often humorous poetry.

This inspirational new collection consolidates Rab Wilson's position as one of Scotland's leading poets and plays a part in the reinvigoration of the Scots language in modern Scottish society



Life Sentence


Life Sentence follows on from Rab Wilson's ground-breaking collection of poems "Accent of the Mind". In this new collection Rab investigates Scottish ancient legends, conflicts throughout history, and contemporary political issues; is inspired by a cultural exchange visit to Ireland; and, presents a powerful sequence containing nine sonnets entitled "Quake", based on the themes and ideas suggested to him by earthquakes. This impressive new collection is written in traditional south-west Scots, in standard English and, in Burns tradition, often a combination of the two. This is some of the finest and most innovative contemporary Scottish poetry, above all because it is inspired by life, as Rab Wilson highlights in the title poem, "Fir life is whit we aa are sentenced tae"


Chuckies fir the Cairn.


Edinburgh publisher Luath in conjunction with Dumfries and Galloway Arts Association and the Scottish Arts Council commissioned the Burns Fellow Rab Wilson to compile an anthology of the best of Scots poetry from the Dumfries and Galloway region.  “ Ah wantit tae create a buik o poems that was a delicht “ said Rab  “ enjoyable, accessible an a pleasuir fir fowk tae read”  “The Makars in this buik dinnae jist write in the leid –they leeve it !  Tae hear them read is tae hear a souch o Scotland that is in vera much danger o passin awa. “




Alex Shanks.


Ah wis oan Newcraighall Strike Committee

A single mither wi next tae zero

Gied us a fiver oot o her giro

Men gied us free beer fae Dryborough Brewery.

The right tae work, that wis aa that we asked

Demands which the Tories said went too faur

Fir tellys, holidays, mibbes a caur

Sae judges an lawyers taen us tae task.

Ah wis dragged through the courts, heavily fined

An haen nae previous wis nae defence

Fined twa hunner pound fir a first offence

Aa ah did wis staun oan a picket line.

Ah’ll nevvir forget it, it’s left its mark,

It festers there yet, somewhaur in the daurk.



DumfounertWi Wunner.


They taen the Kelloholm weans doun the street,

Twa, three wee anes frae the Nursery Schuil,

A jaunt tae the shops, social learnin skills,

Wi mibbes ice-cream thrown in fir a treat.

Ower the brig, across the swollen Nith,

‘Keep in you pair, mind haud each ither’s hauns!’

Wide-eyed the weans tak in the warld’s oan-gauns;

Ane spys some men wha’re thrang up oan a ruif,

An innocently daels her Joker caird,

Lik a fledglin bird bent oan kennin why,

She luiks up an she speirs ‘Miss, whit’s gaun oan?’

Distrackitly, her teacher maks repone;

‘Ah dout they must be pittin up the ‘SKY’’.

Dumfounert wi wunner, the wean juist stared.





Aince ‘Tattie’ Crisp hud left the N.H.S.

Up tae its lugs, a billion pound in debt,

Wis he repentant walkin oot the yett?

Nae fear! Whit did he care anent the mess?

A pension, worth three million, his reward.

A knighthood tae, they say, fir Guid Sir Nigel,

Whae’s no averse it seems tae bein laid idle –

His future ‘index-linked’ – bi closin wards.

But hou hae aa the kettle-bilers fared,

The yins at the ‘shit-face’, whit did they get?

Juist let me illustrate hou things are shared;

Thon lass, wi nae seeck-time, whit did she net? –

A box o Cadbury’s Heroes – an a caird.

Ah lauched when ah heard – else ah micht hae gret.  





All poems on this page are the copyright © of Rab Wilson










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