Window shopping

How often do you have to do something before it qualifies as “tradition” or “a tradition”? And do you want it to? Traditions are a comfort to us, but they are also a target. I love tradition, and traditions. I also find some traditions and some expressions of tradition to be the most staid, reactionary examples of human behaviour around.

Well, sending a poem in to an exhibition twice, might not count. But I’m hoping that Windows for Burns Night, masterminded by forces of light in South West Scotland including Roncadora Press, will go from strength to strength.


Wance I’d focussed – aff dey’d gien…

Last year, poets were invited to send snail mail addresses and were sent acetates on which to write their own poetry, which was to be displayed in shop, pub and museum windows in and around Dumfries, in celebration of Robert Burns and his relationship with the town, and with its Globe Tavern.

Being as I am on the whole up for something a bit different, I sent off, and received an acetate with a permanent marker pen.

Both this year and last, the organisers have stipulated that poems be the poets’ original work – but made no requirements to novelty or exclusivity. Whilst this was and remains one of the many excellent aspects of this nascent tradition, time and habit (tradition?) dictated that this budding bard penned a new piece, responding to the themes raised and doffing a poetic cap to the immortal memory.

I was pretty sure it was only slightly longer than I wanted it to be. Here’s what I’d made –

Aniddir Setirdee Nicht In
Dooble glazed, his een
fan da back o da fire
laek da blackback bastard
fins da hirplin lamb

laek da bloodied siller
mackerel belly fins da haddock
i da mirk, an laek da rhone
abön da ben windock
fins da rain.

Hit’s aisy eneoch
ta gjit some air in
whan da sun wins oot
bit da blackout blinds

wis doon da nicht,
no a prick o licht
wid be shed apö da mönless malady
at sookit him, limpet stuck
bi da awppin stove door

feedin hit bricht an lang
wi washed up wid
brokkin i da kjist afore him

wi da dual fuel
o his love, an his loss.

I still am pleased with this poem – it references Burns through fire (I can’t help it) and also indicates towards A Cottars Saturday Night In, one of my (many) favourite Burns poems. When I attempted to put it onto an A4 sheet and sign it, I didn’t have room to do the latter. It was scalpel time in a big way, and no mistake.


Old and new extensions from the riverbank to the sky – divided by the river which unites them

Which is no bad thing. The version above is 109 words long. I managed to lose 23, and sign the remaining 86. And tradition being nothing without a trend to continue, I got an entry together for 2013. jpeg s were invited this time round, or hard copies for the organisers to scan. At long post-meridien on the deadline, I hauled the scanner out of the cupboard. It worked (hallelujah). Number of words – six. Original copy – filed avec moi (B pencil on printer paper).

One of the excellent things about this initiative is the submission window’s position in the emotional and material maelstrom of November-January. Right at the hardest (or maybe right after the hardest) time of the hardest time, the bard and his disciples call through the mirk.

This years entry was much more visual than last year. My road seems to be going that way (see random Ne’erde pics inserted). Whatever, I am da blyde. Please join me – and visit Dumfries and her windows if you get a chance.

burn bricht


About damagnifyingless

I live in Glasgow, and express myself through poetry, film, photography and my blog at
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