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Three writers share top prize in James McCash poetry competition

THREE poets share first prize in this year's James McCash Scots Poetry Competition, run jointly by The Herald and Glasgow University.

Ann Matheson of Biggar, Eunice Buchanan of Arbroath, and Alan MacGillivray of Glasgow, each receive £700 from this year's total prize money of £3600.

Their poems are strikingly different. Ann Matheson's Attrition is a powerful evocation of major battles of the First World War, the poignancy of her narrative enhanced by her concentration on individuals caught up in appalling circumstances. This poem is particularly timely as the 100th anniversary of the war looms.

Eunice Buchanan's Loom of the Esk is by contrast a timeless, lyrical portrait of the Scottish river, from a writer often associated with witty, subversive, "takes" on classical myths. Her debut collection, As Far as I Can See, recently won the Saltire Society's Scottish First Book of the Year Award.

In Mirror Image, Alan McGillivray takes a popular television drama series from Denmark and, with vernacular flair, turns it on its head to point a political moral about Scotland. His arguments may be controversial to some, but demonstrate how well spoken Scots lends itself to contemporary debate.

Some 160 poets entered this year's competition, from places as far afield as India, as well as many parts of Scotland. There was no set theme and entries ran the gamut of the romantic to the satirical, the serious to the frivolous.

The judges - Nigel Leask, Regius Professor of English Language and Literature at Glasgow University, his colleague Professor Alan Riach, Chair of Scottish Literature, and I - were, as always, impressed by the liveliness of the material and the robust use of the Scots language in its various manifestations, from Lallans and Doric to sharp city patois.

Again, reflecting the high standard of the entries, three poets share the second prize, each receiving £300. They are Jim Carruth, of Bridge of Weir, with Dry Stane Dyke; Jim Waite, of Perth, with Vox Humana; and Judith Taylor, of Aberdeen, with Poem on Gless.

Three third prizes of £200 have also been awarded. They go to John Brewster, of St Monans, Fife, for The Alchemie of Bairntime; Sheila Templeton, of Glasgow, for Dumfoonert; and Sylvia Telfer, of Rutherglen, for Nae Apologetic Apostrophes.

Our thanks and congratulations to everyone who entered the competition.

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