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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Hannah Nicholson

Hannah is a poet from Shetland, whose work explores themes of people, and place. Hannah consistently focuses on LGBTQ+ advocacy, offering a perspective of growing up under section 28 and the lasting legacy this has had on the queer community. 

You perfectly combine a really authentic linguistic representation of Shetland with queer narratives, are these two parts of your identity something that you feel easy to celebrate in your work?

I wid say I'm gettin much better at doin yun, although it's no ay been intentional on my part. Last year I wis interviewed bi Lou Selfridge, a student at St Andrew's Uni, fir a study dey wir doin as pairt o dir degree aboot da intersect atween queer themes an Scots language an dey took parteeclar notice o twa poyums at I'd no originally written as queer themed but dey still picked yun up in dem. Yun maks me kinda blyde. I suppose dir times I'm don it ithoot really tryin tae, so it's laekly aesy anoff fir me, certainly nooadays onywye.

How do you feel about LGBTQ+ Scots representation at the minute?

I doot dir ay mair at could be don fir LGBTQ+ fokk, although things ir absolutely gettin a peerie bit better. A notable example is da publication last year o Josie Giles' Orcadian sci-fi verse novel 'Deep Wheel Orcadia', which guid on tae win da Arthur C Clarke award - no only an example o a Scots language wark but also o queer literature. I hoop based on dis at da tide is mebbe turnin. While yun is an amazin start, though, mair support an promotion on yun front is definitely a help.

What’s next for you as an artist?

I wis signed bi Andrew James at Frog Literary, a new agency set up tae specifically represent LGBTQ+ writers which I suppose wid link intae da previous question a peerie bit. Tae yun end, I hae a fair bit o rewritin tae do o me novel tae mak it ready fir sendin tae publishers. I also hae a couple o poyums due tae be published on Scots Hoose, a website at publishes Scots language resources fir skules, which I wis commissioned fir aerlier idda year. I'm also been wirkin on a Scots translation o a tabletop RPG game, which wis a new experience fir me, but I haed a lot o fun wi it. An dir a couple o idder things comin up laetir idda year at I'm no able tae quite spaek aboot yit, but hoopfully shune.

Who are your creative heroes in the Scots and LGBTQ+ communities?

I doot dir ower mony tae neem! In terms o idder Shaetlan writers, I laekly need tae meenshun Rhoda Bulter an George PS Peterson, altho dir laekly no da only eens. Queer influences wid include Tove Jansson an Douglas Stewart an o course Josie Giles.

Is there anything else you’d say to other Scots speaking creatives?

I doot I juist need tae say really at I'm blyde fir aabody at encouraged me tae spaek an write in Shaetlan. I doot my granny really needs da maist credit fir yun, but so do a lot o idder faimly members. I'm haed lots o positive responses fae various fokk ower da years - includin Janey Godley - an it always maks me blyde tae hear eftir bein so self conscious about it fir a lang time. I suppose recommendin a couple o online resources fir Shaetlan wid be an idea too - namely, and

Wir Ay Been Here

Despite da efforts
Made ower da years,
Wir ay been here.
Even whan it wisna safe
Fir wis tae be wirsels
Oot an aboot,

Wir ay been here,
An whan Section 28
Wis rife in skules,
Laevin shock waves ahint
Even eftir hit wis aboleeshed, 

We were still here.
Wir ay been here, hoidin awa
Till sic'n a time as wir able
Tae be wha we really ir
Oot idda oppen
Ithoot let, hindrance or abuse.
Despite dir efforts
Ower da years,
Wir ay been here,
Wir ay been here.

Da Wirset Rainbow

As da years geng by
An we oppen wir minds,
Hit'll aa get better
Een o dis days.
We kin live as wirsels,
An authentic life
Whar we irna judged
Or made tae hiddle awa,
Whar we kin geng a waak
Doon Commercial Street
On a day shoppin in Lerook
Haddin haands an airms.
Here's tae da eens
At cam afore wis,
Dem at blazed wir trails
An fan whit wis waitin
At da end o da wirsit rainbow.
Dir'll come a day afore lang
Whan we kin aa mairch tagidder
As wan big lovin front,
An we dinna hae tae worry
Whit idder fokk might think,
Aboot da spaekalation
At could come wi it,
Or even if dey think aboot wis at aa.