Wind-Blawn: Poems in Scots and English; Comings & Goings: Poems, Tales in Scots & English; Thursdays: Poems & Playlet in Scots & English; Malfranteaux Concepts, Aberdeen; Lochlands, Maud (x 2); all titles by Sheena Blackhall, 2017, 26pp., £3.00 each.
Sheena Blackhall’s reenge is dumfounerin, wi wark scrievit in Doric an Inglis an stravaigin thorough aw kins o subjecks, past an praisent, frae airt an science, tae luve an daith. Stappit wi a gallimaufry o aw kins o orra facks an fowk, lik ‘Waterloo teeth’, ‘Smugglerius’, ‘Vickensport’, no tae mention ‘Desperate Dan at Holyrood’, her darg is aye kittlin. Add tae the mixter-maxter a wheen o owersetts, a wee play an a haunfu o prose observes, an ye hae a hail vaige o discovery.
Aw thorough this darg, the makar’s dule, followin the daith o her son, kythes ben her bricht tapestry o wirds, lik muckle black steeks. A haunfu o poems speak o her hert-scaudin pyne, her tinsell an her guilt; an her seekin fur weys tae thole it:
I sat wi him, my kistit son
Seelent, rowed in his windin sheet
Grief roared inbye, a drumly linn
Far sorra, guilt an langin meet
(‘Lament for a First-Born Tint’, Thursdays)
The maist eerie o thaim is the eldritch ballat ‘Ghaist-Spikk’:
Fa dae ye tryst wi in the derk
Ma darling son, ma lammie?
I tryst wi the deid fowk bi the kirk
They’re ma friens noo, ma mammy
In ‘Wind-Blawn’, ye can fin poetic tourist airtins tae Embro, featuring the Hop oan-Hop aff bus, the Paurliament, Auld Reekie’s ghaists, observes oan a wheen o picturs in the National Gallery an a byordinar listin o artefacts in the National Museum:
Limestone carving of an Assyrian king
A prayer wheel house from monks of Samyé Ling
Thunderbird transformation mask and outfit
Amethyst geodes, fossils, Kenyan garnet
Twa ither ‘listin’ poems desserve a mentioun. ‘Memorabilia: Aberdeen’ (Comings & Goings) is biggit wi plosive wirds that are as stieve an pithie as the granite o the city, while ‘Savon de Marseille (Extrapure Mediterranée)’ (Thursdays) is an ironic list o aw the ‘naitral’ saip’s chemical hotch-potch. Mair peyntit irony can be fun in ‘Three famous guests en plein air’ (Comings & Goings):
‘Because we don’t exist on a physical plane
Doesn’t lessen our power to influence generations’, Aurelius stated
‘Ah, but how many hits do you have on Twitter
It maun be said, houever, that there is ae poem, ‘Paedo’ (Wind-Blawn), it micht hae been wyce tae leave oot o the kirn: readers can judge fur theirsels. Monie fowk wad agree that Blackhall is at her best whan she scrieves in her ain braw rauchle an hailsomely lyrical Doric, yaisin wirds ye can juist aboot taste in yer mou:
It’s gledsome tae watch the burns
Breenge heigh-ma-nannie doon the bens
Scoorin panjotterls o leaves frae the puils sides
Feelin the shmoodrichs o sna
Faa saft on yer jeeled cheeks’.