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Poet ‘delighted’ after prestigious award win

Roseanne Watt.
Roseanne Watt.

SHETLAND writer Roseanne Watt says she is “overwhelmed” after triumphing in a celebrated national poetry competition – netting £20,000 in the process.

The writer, who now lives in Edinburgh, won the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award on Wednesday night at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Roseanne said she was “delighted and most of all deeply thankful” for the win.

The competition – which is for full-length, unpublished manuscripts – also had Shetlander Peter Ratter on its shortlist.

He picked up £1,000 for his efforts.

Roseanne submitted a collection called Moder Dy, which consisted of around 40 poems and ruminated on the idea of home and returning.

“It was already such an honour to be on the shortlist alongside such incredible poets,” she said.

“The readings of each poet on the night were phenomenal and such a testament to how exciting the Scottish poetry scene is right now. I am overwhelmed, delighted and most of all deeply thankful for the generosity of Edwin Morgan.

“This award will give me the opportunity to develop as a writer and filmmaker, and I am just so grateful for it.”

Judge Janice Galloway said Roseanne’s poems were “built from the sight, sound and heartbeat of land as much as from the sea and salted-away memory, alongside which we find the most complex and mysterious of human experiences”.

“This is a celebration of language, place and the mystery of being alive, alive, alive,” she added.

Fellow judge John Glenday said: “There’s a remarkably mature intelligence at work in these profound, assured and wilfully spare poems – Roseanne Watt’s is a truly individual and welcome voice.”

“It was also so exciting to have two Shetland poets, both writing in dialect, nominated for an award like this,” Roseanne added.

“It makes me feel hopeful and validated to continue to develop the tradition of dialect writing. Especially would like to mention fellow Shetlander on the list, Peter Ratter, who read exquisitely.

“His poem, Jerome, was my favourite of the night. The imagery just floors me every time I read or hear it – ‘until I came back / dead, drifting through corn bones / below a tired, bleeding star’. Just sublime – I can’t wait to hear more from him and read his collection.

“Also a big shout out and thanks to the Shetland contingent who turned up to support us on the night. It really does ease those nerves seeing familiar, friendly faces in the audience.”

Roseanne is the poetry editor for the online literary magazine The Island Review, while she was also the winner of the 2015 Outspoken Poetry Prize (Poetry in Film) and a runner-up in the 2018 Aesthetica Creative Writing Award.

The biennial Edwin Morgan Poetry Award was set up by the Edwin Morgan Trust in honour of the late makar.

One of the largest literary prizes in the UK, the award is open to poets aged 30 or under.