Monday, 18 December 2006

The Poems: The Likeable Ordeal

OUT NOW.... Sheena's 50th collection of poetry, The Likeable Ordeal, published by Severin Books.

The collection includes a number of poems written in October 2006 during Sheena's time at the Ted Hughes Centre, Lumb Bank, Yorkshire.

Some of the poems and songs included in The Likeable Ordeal were performed at the Brechin Arts Festival 2005, the Aberdeen Arts Carnivals 2005 and 2006, Deliberately Thirsty at the Edinburgh Fringe 2006, Aberdeen Word Festival 2006, and the William Wallace 2005 Commemorations. Others have been published in 100 Favourite Scottish Poems (Luath and the SPL, 2006), Scotland's Poets (Poetry Now, 2006), Great Britain (Anchor Books, 2005) and in the Friends of Elphinstone Institute newsletter.

Copies of The Likeable Ordeal are available from Severin Books - get yours before they sell out!

Monday, 18 September 2006

The Poems: The Heavenly Cow of Thebes

A new collection of poems, newly published by Lochlands as a Limited Edition booklet.

The Heavenly Cow of Thebes was written mainly in Egypt, as Israel entered Lebanon during a volatile period in Middle East relations. Some of the poems were subsequently performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and during the Aberdeen Arts Carnival. 'The Time Traveller’s Convention' was published in The Thing that Mattered Most (Black & White Publishing and the Scottish Poetry Library).

Friday, 12 May 2006

The Poems: 2006 Limited Editions

The Owl Hour (Malfranteaux Concepts, 2006) contains ‘This Braif Toun’, a cantata commissioned by Aberdeen Orpheus Choir in 2005 (lyrics bySheena Blackhall, music by James Reith). It also features ‘Sculpture in Granite’, a film commentary commissioned by Aberdeen City Council’s Maritime Museum to accompany a film on the granite industry from their archives. Coincidentally, Blackhall’s third novella ‘The Quarry’ is located around the Rubislaw Quarry area. The poem 'The Dauncin Piper' was composed as a tribute to the late David M. Low, and was first performed at a memorial concert in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care at Aberdeen University's Elphinstone Hall in April 2006.

The cover of Past Masters (Lochlands, 2006) shows the poet’s paternal grandfather, Alexander Middleton, in his Masonic insignia. He was a Past Master of Lodge No 281, Charleston of Aboyne, Aberdeenshire West. The poems draw on Masonic symbolism. The motif of Jacob’s Ladder is a recurrent one in Sheena’s poetry.

Sea Quine (Malfranteaux Concepts, 2006) includes fourteen poems inspired by paintings in the 72nd Exhibition of the Aberdeen Artists’ Society, of which Sheena is an ordinary member. Others were broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland's Reel Blend, or published in Sex & the City (Koo Press).

Bairn Poems: The Tiger o Trincomalee

The Tiger o Trincomalee is a Very Limited Edition collection of poems in Scots for bairns, published by Malfranteaux Concepts in 2006.
In his review in Lallans, David C. Purdie said: 'this is a wee traisure trove that'll kittle up the childer nae fash. Forbye the poems the buiks illustratit wi umpteen braw wee drawins duin bi ane Sine NicThearlaich wha turns oot tae be nane ither nor Sheena Blackhall hersel... sae lang as we hae skellie makars like Sheena Blackhall screivin for bairns an growne-up bodies forbye, there's hope yet for the Scots leid'.

The Poems: 2005 Limited Editions

Ferlies, published by Lochlands in 2005, is another collection of poems by Sheena, sold in aid of Mental Health Aberdeen.

Lochlands also published a further booklet in the Very Limited Edition series, Sergeant Buchan's Jacket. This collection included poems inspired by work from the Aberdeen Artists' Society 71st Annual Exhibition in 2005, and a poem, 'The Gweedman's Craft', which Sheena wrote after studying Arthur Watson's 'Goodman's Land', exhibited by Grampian Hospitals Arts Trust as part of the University of Aberdeen's Word Festival.

Sergeant Buchan's Jacket also includes 'Holyrood', a poem written after Sheena, myself and my better half went doon on the train to Embra to visit the Scottish Parliament. The afternoon we visited the Chamber, Thursday 19 May, did indeed include discussion of "...breastfeeding, / noxious emissions, beavers, health, horse passports".

The Poems: 2005 Limited Editions

The Win an the Rain, a collection of poems and tales, was published in 2005, with all proceeds donated to the Tsunami Relief Effort.

Death of a Pope was published by the University of Aberdeen to celebrate Word05. The collection contains poems written during Sheena's visit to Italy, her original intention for her trip being to fulfil a lifetime's ambition to study the art of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, and explore the remains of ancient Rome. However, as the title indicates, events changed the mood and emphasis of the writing, as she became caught up in some of the most moving and extraordinary scenes of recent times.

The Poems: 2004 Limited Editions

Hairst o Thorns and Serendipity are the final pair of 2004 very limited edition collections, and were published by Lochlands.

As with some earlier collections, all proceeds from Hairst o Thorns went to support Mental Health Aberdeen. 'Luggin in at Khan’s' was commissioned by Radio Scotland. Other poems were published in three Anchor Books anthologies, the Triumph House anthology ‘Within my Hand’ and in Forward Press’s ‘Poetry Now, Scotland Ireland and Wales 2004,’ or in Storm magazine. Haunfast was published in Handfast, an anthology of poems published by the Scottish Poetry Library in association with Polygon. Hairst o Thorns also includes the short story 'Souvenir'.

Serendipity once again features poems written during Sheena’s travels to the East – this time from her visit to Sri Lanka.

The Poems: Gallery Prints

This collection, a collaboration between Les Wheeler and Sheena, was published by Lochlands in 2004. It contains poems and verse suggested by works in Aberdeen Art Gallery, and was written while the authors were conducting writing workshops there.
David Atherton, the Creative Links Officer for Aberdeenshire Council, worked closely with Les and Sheena in his former role as Education Officer at the Gallery. In his foreword to Gallery Prints he comments: 'Les and Sheena have spent many hours over the last few years composing their own responses to the displayed artefacts. These responses, works in their own right, have now been collated and form a remarkable anthology of literature that reflects admirably the original intentions of the artists whilst at the same time imbuing them with their own flavour of wit, insight and sophistication.'

Thursday, 11 May 2006

The Poems: 2004 Limited Editions

Two more collections from 2004's Very Limited Edition series.

The cover for The Toad on the Rock's Opinion, by Sìne NicTheàrlaich, is based on a detail from The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, a precursor of the Surrealists (a favourite group of Sheena's). Poems in this collection also appeared in Worlds in Wonder, Lapidus, and Poetry Scotland.

Poems from Preparing to Meet the Minotaur, in keeping with the changing platform for poetry, appeared in magazines (Lallans and Leopard), as part of an Art Exhibition (GHAT), on Radio Scotland with Robbie Shepherd, and online via The Elphinstone Kist and Red Lotus Arts.

Wednesday, 10 May 2006

The Poems: Pandora's Box

Pandora’s Box was another of the Very Limited Editions published in 2004. A collection of poems in Scots and English, the booklet contains a selection of work which featured in a Grampian Hospitals Arts Trust exhibition alongside the pictures which inspired them. Poems performed at the Edinburgh Festival Book Fringe in 2004 are also included.

The foreword contains one of my favourite Sheena anecdotes, which I first heard lang syne when I asked her what inspired a particular poem:
"Ten years ago I attended a workshop run by the Scottish psychosynthesists on integrating the psyche. We were to imagine the psyche as a house. We were to imagine the front door. We were to imagine the door opening. A very important element of the psyche was to emerge in symbolic form. Others saw Indian chiefs and Egyptian priests. From my front door there stepped a large hairy Friesian, mooing amiably… "

The Short Stories: Pie in the Sky

Pie in the Sky is another Very Limited Edition from 2004, and features fourteen short stories in Scots and English.

Sheena's foreword to the booklet discusses the challenges of writing in Scots, and the often frustrating quest to find a publisher outside the sphere of local presses. It contains some valuable advice for any new writer.

Sheena produced an astonishing wealth of material during her years at the Elphinstone Institute, and decided to publish the work herself rather than see it wait patiently unpublished in a drawer: "You'll lose money on the venture, but the general public will actually buy your work and hopefully read it. If the thought of losing money appals you, you should examine the reasons behind why you are actually writing... Is it to become rich and famous? Write in English then. Possibly for Mills and Boon."

Bairn Tales & Poems: 2004 Limited Editions

In 2004, three special collections for children were published as Very Limited Editions:

Katy the Crocodile: Poems in Scots for Littlins

The Wizard o the North: Poems in Scots for Halflins

Indian Peter: Bairn Tales and Poems in Scots and English

The Wizard o the North was a finalist in the 2005 Callum Macdonald Memorial Award for poetry pamphlet publishing.

The Poems: Fae the Muckle Furth

The Tower o Babel: A Wheen Owersettins in Scots and The Lan o Tea an Tigers are the next in the series of Very Limited Edition booklets which appeared in 2004. Both collections are subtitled 'Poems fae the Muckle Furth' and include work inspired by Sheena's travels.

All the poems in The Tower o Babel are owersetts into Scots taken from English translations completed by others who are expert in their own linguistic fields. "What interests me", says Sheena, "are the ideas behind the words, from different countries and times."

The Lan o Tea an Tigers, in addition to poems written during Sheena's travels in Thailand and India, features 'The Lion and the Eagle', a poem written and performed during 'Scotland at the Smithsonian' which Sheena attended with Elphinstone colleagues Stanley Robertson and Ian Russell in 2003.

The Poems: The Boddamers' Monkey

The Boddamers’ Monkey is a collection of place poems published in Very Limited Edition in 2004.
The title comes from the traditional song of the same name:
Eence a ship sailed roon the coast,
an aa the men in her wis lost,
Barrin a monkey up a post,
sae the Boddamers hanged the monkey oh!

Tradition goes that during the Napoleonic wars a ship ran aground off Boddam. The only survivor was a monkey which the Boddamers hanged, thinking it was a French spy, but gave it Christian burial anyway. In the past, to rile the inhabitants of Peterhead and Boddam, other North Easters would enquire ‘Fa beeriet the monkey?’

This collection includes the prizewinning ‘Salute tae a Bonnie Fechter’, a poem written in tribute to the late Hamish Henderson.

The Poems: 2004 Limited Editions

At the end of Sheena's residency as Creative Writer in Scots at the Elphinstone Institute she had a wealth of poems and stories. She decided to make these available in Very Limited Edition print runs and the first two booklets to appear were the poetry collections Diminishing Lines and The Humpty Dumpty Man.

Some of the poems in Diminishing Lines also featured in Chapman, Poetry Scotland, and Storm. Others were recorded on the CD Inspired Gossip. 'Brig o Balgownie (*2)' was exhibited as part of a poetry installation at the Queen Mother Library whilst other poems were exhibited by GHAT at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, alongside the paintings which inspired them and the thought processes involved.

The Humpty Dumpty Man features 'Across the Braid Atlantic' and 'Bonnie Fite-Haired Loon', prize-winning entries in the Doric Festival Traditional Ballad and TMSA Ballad writing competitions respectively.

Tuesday, 9 May 2006

The Poems: The Dule Tree

The Dule Tree was published in 2004 by Finavon Print in association with the Elphinstone Institute, to mark the end of Sheena's residency as Creative Writer in Scots at the University.
A year earlier, Sheena and her Elphinstone colleagues Dr Ian Russell and Stanley Robertson represented Scotland at the Smithsonian Institute’s Festival at the Mall in Washington, showcasing traditional storytelling and singing from the North East. Poems inspired by the Smithsonian experience feature in this collection.

The Novellas: Minnie

Minnie was published by the Scots Language Resource Centre in 2004.
‘A wee masterpiece’ The Scotsman
‘This braw work is a pleisure tae read’
Irene Broon,
Scots Tung
Written entirely in Doric, the novella is set in the 1920s - a time of great change in the farmlands of the North East. The story deals with a young girl’s passage through puberty, loss and recovery, and her transition from farm to city life.
The paperback is available directly from the SLRC.
ISBN 1 899920 01 3

The Novellas: Loon

'Loon', a novella in North East Scots, was published by Itchy Coo in 2003, in Double Heider: Twa Novellas in Scots. The book - a Scottish publishing first - also features Hamish MacDonald's 'The Girnin Gates', written in Glaswegian dialect.

'Loon' is the story of Donnie Paterson, a troubled Aberdeenshire teenager whose life is turned around by the discovery of his missing grandfather in a retirement home, and a holiday in the Highlands where he hears a strange story that becomes the key to solving his problems.

Itchy Coo is an award-winning imprint which specialises in Scots Language books for children and young people.

The paperback of Double Heider is available online from the Itchy Coo website, or at all good bookshops. ISBN: 1 902927 72 9

The Poems: Queerie-Orrals

Queerie-Orrals, a small selection of Scots and English poems, was published in limited edition by Severin Books in 2003.

If you've ever mulled over moustaches, pondered on pillows, or day-dreamed about doorknobs, this edition of poems is for you. Queerie-Orrals, as its name suggests, is an imaginative collection of peculiar poems and curious contemplations, that will beguile and entertain.

The cover illustration is notable for providing proof-positive that Cattie of Severin Books does actually have a brain, by featuring MRI scans of the actual organ.

A very small number of copies are still available from Severin Books.

The Poems: Winnlestrae

A time for aa aneth the sun
The Heivens decreed it sae:
A time tae live, a time tae dee
Fur man's but winnlestrae.

Winnlestrae (Severin Books, 2003) is a limited edition collection of fifty Scots and English poems, contemplating life's journey from cradle to kist.

A very small number of copies are available from Severin Books.

The Poems: A Boorich o Fowk

A Boorich o Fowk (Severin Books, 2003) reflects with humour and sensitivity the relationships local people have with the land, the sea, and the towns of North East Scotland.

Like the earlier collection, The Heilanman's Sporran, Charles Hynes provided the wonderful cover illustration and proceeds from the sale of the book supported Mental Health Aberdeen. Sheena is an Honorary Member of Mental Health Aberdeen's Advisory Committee.

The opening section, Sea Fowk, is a sequence of poems inspired by John Bellany's exhibition, 'Images of the North Sea'.

Copies are available from Mental Health Aberdeen, or contact Severin Books.

The Poems: A Boorich o Breets

Published in 2002 by Severin Books, A Boorich o Breets: The Gurks, The Sphinx, an Ither Fantoosh Beasties was sold in aid of local charity FORAK (Friends of the Royal Cornhill, House of Daviot & Kingseat Hospitals).

Animals and animas, real and mythical beasts from Skinnymalinkie Centipede to the Loch Ness Monster, Scots craiturs and English creatures, practical and unpractical cats - they're all here in this collection of 76 poems.

The collection proved extremely popular, and the limited edition sold out completely in a matter of weeks. It is rumoured that the unprecedented rush to purchase Breets (as it became known) was because of the inclusion of 'Smokey Duggan the Campus Cat', a celebration of a much-loved university character, whose picture graced the wall of Sheena's office in the Elphinstone Institute for several years.

The Poems: Bringing Up The Tail

Bringing Up the Tail (Finavon, 2001) is a shared volume, with poems by Sheena and fellow Aberdeen writer and leader of the Spring Tides Poetry Group, John Easton. The two had appeared in print together in the earlier collection Skin Balaclavas.

Sheena's selection in Bringing Up The Tail includes the award-winning poem 'Global Hogmanay' and extracts from the long poem 'Winter, Craigendarroch, Deeside', which won the SLS Hugh MacDiarmid trophy in 2001.

Copies may be available from The Elphinstone Institute.
ISBN 0 9541689 0 9

The Poems: Spik Nae Evil

A collection by Les Wheeler and Sheena of bairn-poems, published in 2001 by Gordon Booth Publications.

This hugely successful book went to two print runs, and the poems are often requested by schools and pupils unable to obtain copies of the book, which quickly sold out.

ISBN 0952655454

The Short Stories: The Fower Quarters

The Fower Quarters is a collection of short stories in both Scots and English, published in 2002 by GKB Books, while Sheena was Creative Writer in Scots at Aberdeen University's Elphinstone Institute.

In this collection, as in her earlier work, she uses the whole resources of both English and the North east vernacular to provide the reader with colourful entertainment, while at the same time penetrating into the mysteries of life, death and sex. Myth and ancient ritual comfortably co-exist with the light and dark realities of everyday life.

ISBN 0 9526554 6 2
Copies are available from GKB Enterprises.

The Poems: Skin Balaclavas

Skin Balaclavas was the first of two joint collections with the Aberdeen poet John Easton, and was published by Finavon Print and Design in 2000.
John set up Spring Tides to showcase current poetry in English, whilst Sheena (along with her co-editor Les Wheeler) was working on The Elphinstone Kist promoting the use of Scots prose and poetry across the North East.
Sheena’s contribution to Skin Balaclavas featured poems she had performed at the Millennium Dome, and others published in Nature’s Orchard, Northwords, Straight from the Heart, and Poetry Scotland.

ISBN 0952881373

The Poems: Dancing with Maenads

Profits from the sale of Dancing with Maenads (Keith Murray Publications, 2000) were shared between FORCH (The Friends of Royal Cornhill Hospital) and the Manic Depressive Fellowship. Some of the poems were published in After the Wattergaw (Scottish Cultural Press).
'Sci Fi in Suburbia' was published in the Leopard Magazine, and an extract was performed in Aberdeen’s Millennium Dome performance in London, September 2000. 'Byron Square, Northfield', was written as part of the SPL initiative to link poets with politicians, published in Variations on a New Song (Holyrood Poetry Link Scheme). 'The North East Wind' was composed to accompany music arranged by John Dalby for the Doric Festival 2000.

The Poems: The Singing Bird

The Singing Bird, published in 2000 by GKB Books in conjunction with the Elphinstone Institute, is a collection of poems ranging from delicately barbed humorous verse to a darker treatment of the more tragic aspects of the human condition. Especially noteworthy are Sheena’s translations into the local Doric of modern poems from Greece, Poland and Romania; her own atmospheric impressions of life, past and present, at King's College; and her haunting evocations of both urban and rural existence in Aberdeen and beyond.

ISBN 0 9526554 4
Copies available from The Elphinstone Institute, or from GKB Enterprises.

The Poems: The Telepathic Butcher's Boy

The Telepathic Butcher’s Boy contains seven poems by Sheena, in a small anthology produced to showcase work by a Survivor’s Poetry Group in Aberdeen which she facilitated. Blackhall attended training workshops run by Larry Butler across Scotland to enable her to work in this area.
Sheena is an Honorary Adviser with Mental Health Aberdeen and sits on the Committee of FORCH (Friends of Royal Cornhill Hospital). She was awarded an Honours Degree in Psychology from the OU and ran a creative writing group within premises in the grounds of Cornhill Hospital for some years, and attended training courses run by Lapidus, an association which promotes writing as therapy and as personal development.

The Poems: The Twa B's

A collection shared with Andy Bisset, published by Shopmobility in 2000.

It included 18 new poems from Sheena, and was launched at Ottaker’s bookshop. It quickly sold out.

The Poems: Death, Demons, Perfume and Pearls

Published by Limousin Bull in 1999, this collection features poems by Sheena, Rachel Ingrams, and John Symons.

Rachel Ingrams and Sheena attended a retreat at the Dhanakosa Centre for workshops with the Buddhist poets Ananda & Manjusvara, who run Wolf at the Door weeks for poets with an interest in Buddhism.

The Poems: The Heilanman's Sporran

The Heilanman's Sporran was published by Mental Health Aberdeen in association with GKB Books in 1999. All proceeds from the sale of the collection went to aid the work of Mental Health Aberdeen, a charity which Sheena regularly supports.

The poems in the collection include ballads and humorous verse in Doric, beautifully crafted descriptive poems in English, and a variety of penetrating translations ('owersettins') of classic and modern poetry.

The cover illustration by Charles Hynes gained the book considerable publicity in the local press: for a time the hale o Aiberdeen buzzed with speculation about the symbolism of the contents of the Heilanman's sporran.

The Poems: Millennium Blues

Seven of the poems in Millennium Blues (Hammerfield Publishing, 1999) were owersett into Doric from Gaelic Songs from the Eastern Highlands on Upper Deeside, and were dedicated to the poet’s aunt, Nancy Macintosh, who was born at Corriemulzie, Glen Ey. Much of the vanishing Gaelic material was collected in that region in the 1930s by Frances Diack. During this time, Sheena was gathering material for her M.Litt research study into Doric on Upper Deeside.

The Short Stories: The Bonsai Grower

In 1998, GKB Books published a further collection of short stories, The Bonsai Grower and Other Tales.

Once again, the stories combine suspense, humour, intrigue and mystery, and use both English and Doric. The cover design is by the author herself, and the book also features a number of her illustrations.

ISBN 0 9526554 2 X

Out of print. Copy in National Library of Scotland.

The Poems: Gliong Gliong

A collection of haiku in Gaelic, published under the name of Sìne NicTheàrlaich (Hammerfield Publishing, 1997).

Sheena said that the poems were ‘written for Scots like myself, on the first rung of learning Gaelic, and for those who would like a brief taste in the mouth of the language of Gaeldom.’

At the time of writing she was a member of a Gaelic choir, regularly competing at the Mod.

The Poems: The Life Bluid o Cromar

The Life Bluid o Cromar was produced as a limited edition of 50 books (Hammerfield Publishing, 1997).
The cover is that of the wedding photograph of Lizzie Philip and Matthew Booth, Sheena’s maternal grandparents, and was dedicated to a recently discovered half brother in Oshawa, Canada, born in Ballater, Charles Middleton Ritchie.
‘Lament for a Bard’, in honour of Sorley Maclean was performed at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh at an event hosted by Chapman, ‘Tones of Destiny’.

The Short Stories: Wittgenstein's Web

Published by GKB Books in 1996, Wittgenstein’s Web is a collection of short stories, including the award-winning 'Spikk' and 'The Craigendarroch Kelpie'.

A spider does figure in the pages of this book, but is not named Wittgenstein. That honour belongs of course to the philosopher whose words are quoted in the short and very personal essay on creative writing which introduces this collection of Doric tales – fiction which ranges from the other-worldly to the earthly; from high tragedy to black comedy; and from the bizarre to the mundane. Wittgenstein’s Web illustrates the creative process of weaving language into that web of varied colours and textures which characterises Sheena Blackhall’s artistry.

Three of the tales, 'Muckle Fush – Teenie Fush', 'Road Rage' and 'The Mither' are Doric translations of short stories by Italo Calvino, Alberto Moravia and Italo Svevo respectively.

'A celebration of locality... pervades the work of Sheena Blackhall and.... she explicitly rejects the ideology of the Lallans movement, preferring the 'real' language of her kith and kin.'
John Corbett, Written in the Language of the Scottish Nation (1999)

ISBN 0 9526554 1 1
Out of print, but a copy can be found in the National Library of Scotland.

The Poems: Lament for the Raj

Lament for the Raj an Ither Poems was published in 1996 by GKB Books.
It contains 'Wylins frae a Festschrift' - contributions from writers in the contemporary literary scene in Scotland, William Neill, Ken Morrice, Angus Calder, Derrick McClure and Joy Hendry.
It also features short Gaelic poems by the writer under her Gaelic name of Sìne NicTheàrlaich, the name she subsequently used as an illustrator and artist.

ISBN 0952 655403 - now out of print, but you may manage to still pick up a copy in a local Aberdeenshire bookshop. One was spotted here recently.

The Short Stories: A Kenspeckle Creel

A Kenspeckle Creel is just that. NicTheàrlaich created a photomontage of the Mona Lisa on the cover. The collection contains twelve short stories, five of which are owersetts into Scots of tales by Italo Calvino. Donald Cunningham translated Calvino into English, which are here reset into Scots. Calvino is a highly visual writer, whose tales of Marcovaldo greatly intrigued Sheena. Some of the stories were published by Chapman.
There are also 28 poems in the collection and two plays, The Nicht Bus and Broken Hert, commissioned by Gordon Menzies Productions for the BBC Education Scotland’s programme ‘A Tongue in yer Heid’, broadcast on Jan/Feb 1995. A Kenspeckle Creel was published by Hammerfield Publishing in 1995.

The Poems: Stagwyse

Stagwyse is a selection of poems representing a decade of Sheena’s work. Edited and with an introduction by Colin Milton, it was published by the Charles Murray Memorial Trust in 1995.

Stagwyse draws on eight collections published between 1984 and 1994: The Cyard’s Kist (Rainbow Books, 1984); The Spik o’ the Lan’ (Rainbow Books, 1986); Hame-drauchit (Rainbow Books, 1987); Fite Doo Black Crow (Keith Murray Publishing, 1989); The Nor’ East Neuk (Charles Murray Memorial Fund, 1989); A Toosht o’ Whigmaleeries (Hammerfield Publishing, 1993); Druids, Drachts, Drochles (Hammerfield Publishing, 1994), and also includes a number of poems first published in (among others) Cencrastus, Chapman , Lines Review and The Living Doric.

The Poems: Druids, Drachts, Drochles

Druids, Drachts, Drochles is a collection of poems and short stories from 1994 (Hammerfield Publishing).
Tom Bryan in Northwords described Blackhall’s Scots as 'powerful and adept as Garioch’s, Soutar’s or MacDiarmid’s'…going on to state that 'a large collection by any of the big publishing houses is long overdue'.
The introduction to Druids, Drauchts, Drochles was penned by David Toulmin, who said of her poetry that ‘when it is meant to be, can be as dowie as the mouth of a lamb at the frozen teat in winter.’
'Quasimodo' was published in Tratti 32; others featured were BBC commissions for schools’ programmes, or appeared in Scots Glasnost (IX), Chapman and Cencrastus.

The Short Stories: Braeheid, A Fairm an its Fowk

Braeheid, a Fairm an its Fowk (Hammerfield Publishing, 1993) was joint winner of the 1993 Sloan Prize awarded by the University of St Andrews. Matthew Fitt was the co-recipient. Some of the tales were published in Guid Gear/Sma Buik, The Buchan Observer, Oor Ain Tongue, Chapman and Northwords.
The cover photograph shows the ferm toun of Hillhead of Cairnie, Skene, with the writer’s uncle, George Booth, in the middle flanking his horse Tibby, and father, a WWI veteran. There are 18 stories in this collection, all in Scots, covering a wide range of themes.

The Poems: Back o Bennachie

Back o Bennachie (Hammerfield Publishing, 1993) contains poems published in Cencrastus, Chapman, and Northwords amongst other magazines.

‘North East Nineties Rap’ and ‘Fish Gutter’s Sang’ were BBC commissions by Ishbel Maclean and Gerda Stevenson for TV and Radio schools programmes.

'The Twa Bairn Tales' appeared in English on Freida Morrison’s Nickety Nackety Radio Scotland series.

The Short Stories: A Hint o Granite

A Hint o Granite (Hammerfield Publishing, 1992) contains twenty stories, with an introduction by the poet David Ogston.
Ten are written in English, the remaining ten are in Scots. Themes range from daffodils to Maharajahs, from pianos to childbirth.
Some of the stories were published in Chapman, Three’s Company, Edinburgh Review, Northwords and Lallans.

The Poems: A Toosht o Whigmaleeries

A Toosht o Whigmaleeries (Hammerfield Publishing, 1991) was introduced by Dr James D. Gomersall, Senior Lecturer in Psychotherapy at Sheffield University. Sheena was originally linked with Dr Gomersall as a student in the 1960s; when he moved to Sheffield at a later date they had a long postal connection.
‘The Gun’ was awarded the Hugh MacDiarmid prize and ‘The Bodach Byre’ was a prizewinner in the Scottish International Open Poetry Competition. Other poems featured in ‘The New Makars’, Lines Review, and Poetry Ireland Review No 31.

Monday, 8 May 2006

The Short Stories: Reets

There are twenty stories in Reets. One half of the tales are written in English, the other half in Scots. Some of the stories appeared in Cencrastus, Chapman, GuidGear/Sma Buik, Lallans, Northern Lights Schools Anthology(Unwin/Hyman), and Original Prints I, II, & III. Others were broadcast on Robbie Shepherd’s programme ‘North East Neuk’.

‘Reets’ and ‘The Wattergaw’ were prize winning stories in the Scots Language Society’s annual competition of 1998 and 1990 respectively, being awarded the Robert MacLellan cup. ‘The Frog’ is an English version of ‘The Puddock’, also a prize winning entry in that competition. 'The Honey that Came from the Sea' is a fantasy story, twice broadcast on BBC, one of the writer’s favourite stories.

ISBN 1870978331 Keith Murray Publications, 1991

The Short Stories: A Nippick o Nor East Tales

Published in 1989 by Keith Murray Publications, there are sixteen tales in this collection.
The original version of ‘The Cross’ appeared in English in Leopard Magazine. Other stories were published in Lallans, Chapman and the Buchan Observer. A Scottish Arts Council subsidy was awarded to assist with publication, which was described by Les Wheeler as ‘one of the most important collections of true Scots short stories to be published in the past decade.’

ISBN 1870978099

The Poems: Fite Doo Black Crow

Fite Doo / Black Crow is a collection of poems sadly long out of print (Keith Murray Publishing, 1989). The photo above is of Sheena's own copy which she used during public readings. Aat's a gey glamorous picter o the quine hersel on the back cover, divn't ye think?

Gavin McEwen, then the Preses of the Scots Language Society, writing in the magazine Lallans, said of these poems: ‘Gin ye’re eftir couthy kailyaird verse ye’d better no fash yersel wi Sheena’s wark. Hers is the poetry o a maker, grundit steive i the nor east, but rowin up aw the cerns o mankind in its wab.’

The Cover is a reproduction of the painting Sheep in a Snowstorm by Joseph Farquharson and permission was granted by Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum to use it for this purpose. It contains an introduction by the poet Ken Morrice, who was present at Blackhall’s debut as a poet in Aberdeen.

The Poems: Nor East Neuk

In his introduction to Nor East Neuk, Iain Crichton-Smith described the collection as ‘writing of a very high order indeed, fecund, perceptive, visually exciting. The illustrations too are quite brilliant, imaginative and daring; and reveal a talent for the visual which is essentially the same as that in her best poems, creating fantastic yet exact analogies.’
This volume, like several others, including Sheena’s early Selected Poems, ‘Stagwyse’, was funded by the Charles Murray Memorial Trust.

The Poems: Hamedrauchtit

Hamedrauchtit is a celebration of place, that of Upper Deeside. The poet’s paternal family settled on Deeside in 1623; her mother’s family are mentioned in local records as being there in the 1300s.

Hamedrauchtit was produced in 1987 by Rainbow Publishing and continues to be a very popular collection with the public, poems being requested at readings and for anthologies.