Black Isle-based poet Lynn Valentine remains attached to both her hometown of Arbroath and her adopted city of Glasgow. After winning The Hedgehog Poetry Press' Local People – Dialect Pamphlet Competition, Lynn's Scots language pamphlet A Glimmer o Stars appeared in 2021. Her debut poetry collection, Life’s Stink and Honey, which had won the Cinnamon Press Literature Award in 2020, was published two years later. Lynn's poetry has been featured widely in journals ranging from Gutter and Under the Radar to Northwords Now and New Writing Scotland. She's currently at work on her second full-length collection, which she'll be publishing with Cinnamon Press in 2026.
Thi Leid o Hame
(The Language of Home)
After Roger Robinson
A hae cairriet this hansel withoot kennin,
(I have carried this gift without knowing,)
this thrapple that thraws oot thi rrrs.
(this throat that throws out the rrrs.)
Fir years a thocht tae smoor it doon,
(For years I thought to smother it,)
as teachers wid, eyewis thi correktions,
(as teachers would, always the corrections,)
thi head instead o heid, thi dead instead
(the head instead of heid, the dead instead)
o deid. Ma faither gied it tae me,
(o deid, My father gave it to me,)
ma granny tae—aa those who draggit
(my granny too—all those who dragged)
oan tae land at ma hame toon—fish
(on to land at my home town—fish)
who grew hurdies an settilt there.
(who grew haunches and settled there.)
A unpack thi bag—it sings sangs o hame
(I unpack the bag—it sings songs of home)
an faimily an athin o thi sea—thi reek
(and family and everything of the sea—the smell)
o Smokies that still maks ma veggie moo
(of smoked haddock that still makes my veggie mouth)
slabber, thi lang cauld wind wheechin in
(slaver, the long cold wind driving in)
fae thi Flairs, thi reid o thi cliffs bricht
(from Carlingheugh Bay, the red of the cliffs bright)
at ony time o year. A will tak this hansel
(at any time of year. I will take this gift)
an pass it oan, scrieve ma wurds, sing ma sangs.
(and pass it on, write my words, sing my songs.)
A Flourish of Sun
Midsummer a surprise to those who have handled the weight of winter,
they flop in shorts sold at The Factory Shop for a fiver,
milk-pretty legs thin in this world of burning and cups of pale rum.
Heat peels roofs back, shifts into rooms where snow used to drift.
Dogs circle unsatisfactory trees, mongrels mad with lack of shade,
long grass pulped to dust. All night, light syrups in at the windows.
Bees can’t hold a waggle dance, are confused, too slow.
Blue roses swoon, futile in remembrance of rain.
You ask – Did you forget to take your pills again?
I am awake every hour, the bright orange fizz in my brain.
I am light as a wren. I wonder if I’ll return to winter –
to a seam of frost, to the half-shut moon, fat lap of dark.
Thi Leid o Hame: A Glimmer o Stars (The Hedgehog Poetry Press)
A Flourish of Sun / All That is Needed: Life’s Stink and Honey
All That is Needed
When I am alone I will turn eastwards
to live in a brown house at the edge of the sea.
I will inherit storm-cracked apple trees
and the wild goats that crop their meals
close to the shore where the green boat sleeps.
I will eat cheese as fat as the cheeks
of the moon and pare the good red apples
as thin as fingernails with no one to complain.
I will drink sour wine saved from a communion years ago,
and wash it down with water drawn from somewhere secret.
I will not cook and no one will ask me to.
I will buy bread from the grocer’s van
once a week along with tins that open easily.
I will leave the fish alone, unbothered by a hook,
and if someone visits accidentally I will ask that intruder to go.
I will watch my face grow pursed and thin in the mirror
of the stream while my hair grows thick
as brambles. I will turn pebbles to find precious little.
I will stuff my mouth with sun when it’s hot,
and on cold mornings I will ask the tide for answers.