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Two isles poets shortlisted for prestigious national award

Peter Ratter (left) and Roseanne Watt (right) have been nominated.

TWO Shetlanders are among the five nominees for a prestigious national poetry award.

Peter Ratter, originally from Ollaberry, and Roseanne Watt, who grew up in Sandwick but currently lives in Edinburgh, are on the shortlist for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award 2018.

The award, for writers under the age of 30, was set up shortly after the death of one of Scotland’s most renowned poets and national Makar, Edwin Morgan, in 2010. It is jointly organised by the Edwin Morgan Trust and the Scottish Poetry Library.

The competition, held every two years, is one of the biggest of its kind in the UK, with a top prize of £20,000. The winner will be announced at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on the 22 August.

To be shortlisted, candidates had to compile an unpublished collection of poems. Five nominees were selected from over sixty submissions, judged by the poet John Glenday and the novelist Janice Galloway.

Peter Ratter’s collection, From The Grey Coo, stems from his experiences growing up in Ollaberry, moving through childhood and into adulthood, experiencing city life, and family both young and old.

He also has a keen interest in the older style of Shetland life, inspired by tales from his family history.

The title is a reference to the Greystane or Grey Coo of Leon, near Ollaberry, a rock which generations of his family grew up playing on.

In addition, his poems often explore mental health issues. He said: “I feel it’s important to try and describe it, especially as a male where there has been stigma with talking about that sort of thing in the past.”

On being nominated, he said: “It came as a total shock to me at first, I’ve not entered any poetry competitions since I was in high school six years ago. I stopped writing after I left school until recently, so to receive the shortlisting I was very, very happy.”

Moder Dy, which means ‘mother wave’ in dialect, is the title of Roseanne Watt’s collection, which is “metaphorically linked to the idea of returning”.

It refers to the ancient navigational technique used by haaf fishermen. The ‘moder dy’ always travelled in the direction of land and helped fishermen find their way home.

Roseanne is currently the poetry editor for online literary magazine The Island Review and often combines poetry and filmmaking in her work.

She said it was “totally surreal” to be nominated, adding: “I’m feeling delighted and a little overwhelmed! I’m also completely thrilled to see Peter Ratter on the shortlist too.”

The other nominees are Tom Docherty from Hamilton, as well as Nadine Aisha Jassat and Daisy Lafarge, both based in Edinburgh.

By Patrick Mainland