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Prestigious poetry prize goes to Little and Love

TWO women will share the first prize in this year's James McCash Scots Poetry Competition, run jointly by The Herald and the University of Glasgow.

PRIZEWINNERS: Rowena M Love, left and Pippa Little.
PRIZEWINNERS: Rowena M Love, left and Pippa Little.

This year's theme – The Pleasures of Hope (the title of a poem by Lord Byron's contemporary Thomas Campbell) – produced a healthy response.

Rowena M Love uses a concentrated Scots vocabulary in her winning entry, Pentit Leddy.

Born in Dumbarton and brought up in Dunbar, the Glasgow University graduate has a broad heritage in Scots. Her mother's family used it and she is also familiar with Doric, through her Aberdonian grandfather.

Although used to hearing Scots in the family home she didn't herself speak it. Now, she enjoys using some of its "wonderful words".

Ms Love was a founder of the Makar Press, and her own publications include the chapbook Comin Oot in the Wash – "a washin basket fu o Scots poems".

Pippa Little, whose poem Shivereens shares first prize, was born in East Africa and brought up in St Andrews, Fife.

After a spell working for publisher DC Thomson she obtained her first degree, then studied for a PhD at the University of London. Among other roles, Ms Little has worked as an Open University tutor.

"My father had a great love of Scottish words and passed them down to me," she said. She now treasures a Scots dictionary she inherited from him.

Ms Little has won many literary awards including the Norman MacCaig Centenary Prize, and her latest collection, Overwintering, was published by Carcanet last month. She lives north of Newcastle.

Andrew McCallum of Biggar and Rab Wilson of New Cumnock take the second and third prizes.

The winning poems and shortlisted entries in this year's McCash competition are included in the forthcoming anthology, The Smeddum Test.

It offers a selection of the best entries to the competition from 2003 to 2012 and is due to be published next month.

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