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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Fessen in the Vernacular by Lesley Benzie

6th September 2023

Lesley Benzie is Aberdonian but calls Glasgow home. An editor at Mxogyny Magazine recently said of her (see article at,

“There’s something of a modern day Robert Burns to Lesley – many of her poems are fiercely political, rich in social commentary, and written in Scots”.

Lesley qualifies this statement with “but I’m blessed with a quarter of the number of children and have indulged in much less philandering”. Writing in both Doric Scots and English, she has 2 poetry collections, Sewn Up and Fessen/Reared reissued August 2023 (Seahorse Publications).

Previously she has been Runner-up in the McCash Scots Poetry Competition 2020. In 2021 she was shortlisted in the Main and Scots categories of the Wigtown Poetry Prize. She is a contributor to 3 collaborative collections, Wanderlust Women:Three Poets 2021 and Wanderlust Women: Extra Baggage 2023 (Seahorse Publications) and Norlan Lichts 2022 (Rymour Books) which was nominated for Book of the year in the Scots Language Awards, in which she is also nominated as the Writer of the Year.

She is the Scots translator for the graphic novel Black Oot Here: Dreams O Us by Francesca Sobande & layla-roxanne hill & Chris Manson. 

Fessen in the Vernacular

At times, life can be 
a North Sea wave, brakkin ower me
caul an hard, like a fist 
ah’m nae quick enough tae sidestep. 

Like lost loves, it taks ma breath awa
an ah’m soaked through,
unable tae cling
tae the perts o me
nae shaped
bi the hershness.

At ithers ah’m a driech island landscape
shot through wi the strength o slate grey, 
dense volcanic rock. 
The dark violet sky circlin owerheid.

Theday, ah took ye past
the Fittie Bar, ma da’s favourite,
far ma faimily congregated tae bid him his last.
There is ane o them wide blue skies 
turnin the sea a deep bluegreen
like his een.

Ye mock ma accent that shifts 
back an forth
fae Glasgow, ma spiritual hame 
an back tae Aiberdeen
like the wee waves lappin at oor taes.

Despite the charged sea life smell,
jist the same the salt smerts oor kisses. 
An ah’m grateful for it aa
an that ancient ability
tae think 
wi ma hairt.