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Sloe Jen by Renita Boyle

This beautiful little poem by Renita Boyle won the Scots category of the Wigton Poetry Competition last year, 2016. She is a storyteller as well as a poet, she lives in Wigton where she takes part in the Book Town’s e vents, and far from being a native Scots speaker she is not even originally from Scotland. As with any language, our Scots speaking community must welcome all who learn to write Scots effectively; such incomers add to the language’s power and reach.

The poem sets out as an unassuming recipe for sloe gin and before you know where you are, in its few lines it turns into a love poem. A highly effective poem and it is good to see real poems of this calibre winning our few Scots Language poetry prizes.


Sloe Jen
Bide til the blackthorn aches wild
wi yon slaw loss o simmer days
heaves wechtie aneath its sloes
fou an ripe an roond
draik wi the cruin o the jenny wren
whase nest be empie nou

Bide til the wee-oors aifter
the first bite o frost appens thair skins
frees a treel o sweetness
intae blaikent gin skies
stains the speerit blae-black wi fledging
lang ago lullabies

Then gaither aw yon grief can bide
frae awantin him hame
preek yon hert wi the shairp neb o a jag
an lat it greet

Renita Boyle

Note: This poem shares its title with the linocut that inspired it - Sloe Jen by Lisa Hooper, Hoopoe Prints