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A Heerd tha sodjer on the radio by Angela Graham

29th February 2024

Angela Graham is from Belfast with Ulster-Scots roots in Tyrone and Antrim.  She won the Poetry Prize in the inaugural Linen Hall Ulster-Scots Writing Competition, 2021. The winning poem appears in her acclaimed collection, Sanctuary, There Must Be Somewhere published by Seren Books in 2022.

Ulster-Scots also features in her short story collection A City Burning which was longlisted for the Edge Hill Prize.

The Irish Writers’ Centre, supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, awarded her a mentorship in 2023 for her draft novel which is written in Ulster-Scots, Irish and English and is about the politics of language and land in Northern Ireland.

Episode 6 of the NVTV series ‘A Mighty Mallet’ (2023) surveys her Ulster-Scots work:

Her Ulster-Scots poetry or prose has appeared in every issue of Yarns, the anthology produced by the Ulster-Scots Community Network and her poetry has been Highly Commended in the Frances Browne Ulster-Scots Poetry Competition.

Angela has had an award-winning career as a tv and film producer in Wales, in Welsh and English (Oscars Foreign-language category entrant; BAFTA Wales awards and nominations et al).

A Heerd tha sodjer on the radio

His wurds… an A wus thair! 
Kabul, at a ‘gate’ in tha airdrome waa
− a gap nae braider nor ma shoodèrs –  
fornenst a thrang o despert fowk,  
me atween thaim an ‘oot’.

A wumman, wi hir babbie  
ticht tae hir breesht,  
püt hir left han tae ma face,  
in thon oul, oul leid that sesaa tha worl roon,  
Sodjer, be kine; tak peety on me…  

Like that – somebodie mad a sprachle tae git ower tha waa,
tha hale crood riz, a wave
− braithe, bodies, banes –  
swep forrit. She wus doon!  
A weltèr o feet an hans.

Somehoo A pu’d hir oot.  
Ma billies hel tha line.  
Safe in tha bield,  
hir an tha chile
dee’d in ma airms.  

Resilient, tha sodger went. We’re trained to be… to be…  
Ach! Thair shud a bin yin wile lament, clocks stap’t,  
flegs loored!  Thair’s me in ma wee kitchen,  
tha Ulstèr rain on tha wundae,  
tha onlie ‘mïnit’s silence’ his lang seech.

Scunnèrt tae ma sowl, A wus, wi shem.  
Yin o a hirsel o herdless sheep,
forfoughen, thaveless.
Yit an wi aa, thon sodjer gien us his wurd o wutness.  
Whut, then, shud we dae?

A went tae tha thrashel o ma kitchen dure.  
Tha saft hans o tha rain. Ma face.  
Thon oul, oul leid that ses,  
Apen yer hairt  
an let yer nighbers in.