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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Evans on Johnston

29th May 2014

Sally Evans, poetry editor at the SLC, recently made the following comments on the success of Mary Johnston. The Aipple and the Angel, Mary Johnston's collection of poems in Scots, published by Perjink Press, has won this year's Callum Macdonald Award for a poetry pamphlet.


A very sensitively produced art pamphlet by the artist/publisher Dorothy Lawrenson at Perjink Press, the 24 pages of poems have a theme of the biblical Eden.


Mary beat off a very strong shortlist, including runner up Richie McCaffery's Ballast Flint (published by Cromarty Arts Trust), Murder Bear, a comedic publication by W. N. Herbert (Donut Press), and Weaver of Grass by Chrys Salt (Hattericks House).


The award is made to the publisher, but the poet also receives a prize, including the offer of a two week residency as the Michael Marks Poet in Residence Harvard University's Center for Hellenic Studies in Greece in July.


The Award is run by the National Library of Scotland to help the Library collect poetry publications that might otherwise escape its notice. It was set up by Tessa Ransford as a memorial to her husband the publisher Callum Macdonald. and is supported by the Michael Marks Charitable Trust. It is judged by a panel including Tessa Ransford with The Herald's Lesley Duncan in the chair.


Lady Marks added glamour to this year's occasion by attending the event.


This kind of poetry pamphlet is usually produced in rather small runs, because distribution is difficult, normally being achieved via friends and on social media. Inevitably the attention from winning this award has made The Aipple and the Angel unavailable for the moment, (this happens every year) but Perjink will be reprinting. Perjink's titles are on sale online on Amazon etc.


For a poetry pamphlet entirely in Scots to win this award is quite something, and our congratulations go to Mary Johnston for her success..