Leugh an Leabhar

I got the chance to speak on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal, about the poem Memmetaal / Mammietung that I wrote with the help of Geart Tigchelaar.

You can listen to the programme here (from 22.04).

I’ve started translating Geart’s collection leech hert yn nij jek from Frisian to Scots. It’s a real honour to be working on his beautiful poems.

More news to come on that, I hope!


Here’s a rough transcription into English of the interview with presenter Mark Wringe.

Mark
At the start of the programme we heard a poem in two voices in Scots and Frisian. The second voice was that of David Eyre who met the Frisian poet Geart Tigchelaar at the StAnza poetry festival in St Andrews. David is with us now. So, there you were at St Andrews listening to Geart, and what struck you?

Davie
Well, Mark the closeness of the Frisian and Scots language struck me. I was the poet in residence at StAnza and I was invited to be part of the opening reading, and while I was there listening to Geart and the other Frisian poets, it really struck me how close the languages were. At times I thought I could almost understand it. I think it must be like a Gaelic speaker listening to an Irish speaker from Donegal or something like that. And it was great for me to start thinking about Scots in that context – as a language similar to lots of other European languages, instead of it being looked at as bad English, as some people used to think about it.

Mark
Indeed, and it’s not just that you understood, you took encouragement and tried to write something your self.

Davie
I tried. That night I went back to my BandB and opened my laptop and found an English-Frisian dictionary and another site where there were Frisian phrases. And using them, I tried to write a poem in Frisian, using words that were similar to words in Scots. And then the next day I met with Geart and he went through what I’d written and made corrections. He didn’t have to do that much, which surprised me, and he wrote a blog where he said it surprised him too. (Congratulations!) Thanks! And so it began from there.

Mark
So let’s listen to that poem Memmetaal or Mammietung. One poem – two voices.

So where are you going with this? Are you going to do more?

Davie
Yes, Geart was kind enough to give me a copy of his collection of poetry at the end of the festival – a collection that has one awards in Frislan. I’ve started on translating the poems in that collection into Scots. I’ve done the first part of the collection and I got an email yesterday from Geart saying he was pleased with the way that was going. I still have work to do on those poems though. I’m not sure what we’ll do with the translations once they’re completed.

Geart
How many will there be?

Davie
I think there will be at least 40. I’ve done around six or seven up until now.

Mark
Well that first poem Memmetaal / Mammietung, I can see them on paper here – Frysk and Scots face to face. You called them Steroscopic poems. That’s linked with a novel that you wrote Kaleidoscope.

Davie
Yes, Kaleidoscope was based to a degree on the life of a real man David Brewster, who created the Kaleidoscope and who taught at St Andrews University. I wanted to do a small writing project while I was at StAnza. Brewster also created the Stereoscope – that’s an instrument that allows you to look at two pictures in 2-D, which then appear in 3-D, and my family has one these instruments, from the mother of my grandfather. So I took that Stereoscope to St Andrews and I started trying to write a series of pairs of poems, in different languages, or that were picking up on one subject, but approaching that subject in different ways, so that when you read the two poems together, something else would come out of it, in the same way that you get something different when you look at the two images in the Stereoscope. That’s what I was trying to do with the Stereoscopic poems.

Mark
Thanks Daibhidh, good luck and I hope we can see the poems in a book eventually. And thanks also to the Frisian poet Geart Tigchelaar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *