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Features / Poets’ Corner – Roseanne Watt

Carol Jamieson’s latest guest in her Poets’ Corner feature is Roseanne Watt.

Born in Lerwick where she now lives again, Roseanne says she has always loved writing and cannot remember a time when she did not.

She was 16 when she met then writer-in-residence Kevin MacNeil.  She admired him greatly and was inspired by him to take writing seriously. She is a hugely talented young lady with an inordinate number of accolades for one still so young.

It is possible you may have also seen Rosanne around in a couple of other guises. She is a film maker with regular contributions to the film festival, and a fine fiddle player.

I asked Roseanne of which awards did she feel most proud. She answered “as far as accolades go, the ones most important to me are: The Edwin Morgan Award (2018) awarded to poets under 30, the Eric Gregory Award (2020), and Somerset Maugham Award (2020)”, both of which were for her book Moder Dy.

Ian Brown of The Bottle Imp had this to say of Moder Dy: “Watt’s poems are entirely and unadornedly human.  They also explore life beyond the human, moving meaningfully and flexibly between the two rooms of Shaetlan and English”.

I read Moder Dy from cover to cover in one sitting, enjoying the crafting and moulding of the words and phrases creating pictures and sounds in my head.

I asked Roseanne how the poem Fox came about, did it actually happen?

“Yes, it really happened, when me and my partner were living in Edinburgh. Walking home one night, we turned onto our street and there was the fox, sitting in the middle of the road, completely unphased by us.
“I’d been doing a lot of reading around the anthropocene at the time, and was thinking about how human-centric perspectives might be limiting my own relationship with the non-human world. So I suppose the poem became a bit of a collision of those thoughts with the experience of meeting the fox that night!”

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The conjuring of the still, damp Edinburgh night and the frozen fixture of the fox is magical. The ‘imprecise guilt and my part in the devastating impact on her life’ hit home for me. The intrusion by ‘we who dare to call her thief’. Beautiful and evocatively written.  Even after the third or fourth reading I was still finding hidden gems in the text.


She sat so brazen
in the lovely blood
of the streetlamps

we thought, in our
old arrogance, that we
had imagined her

there – as if
we, who dare to call her thief,
could ever call her

likeness into being.
Her presence stilled us.
She did not look

our way, though she could
hear the weight of breath
in our lungs,

the absurd fanfare
of our bodies. I’m sure we
smelled of damage

long since done; all
oil and smoke unthreaded
by some distance,

something quelled
and dormant lingering
in our skin. But

this night was never
about us. We were nothing
but a minor intrusion

on her evening work.
She did not move when
we did. Beneath

her black gloves
the wet street glistened
like an altar.

She let us pass,
and we stole her image
in furtive glances.

Visit roseannewatt.com to find out more.

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