Happy Burns Night! Sharing a brand new cinepoem today to celebrate the occasion…
This year the I Am Loud Productions team partnered with Glenfiddich to create a poetry film celebrating kinship and community. Creating this piece was a major collaborative effort and I had the honour (and challenge!) of penning the poem. In order to emphasise the constant, unchanging comfort we feel in gathering together, the poem traverses poetic styles and voices from the traditional to the contemporary (more on that below!)
I’m very grateful to the rest of the team for trusting me with the writing and providing helpful notes, and to Kevin Mclean for voicing the poem in the film. The visuals are utterly stunning: the projection elements were shot by Kevin, Perry Jonsson, and Mark Gallie in the Biscuit Factory on a frigid day in mid-January (full project credits in the video). Watch below:
As you’ll hear, the poem begins in the full Scots used by Robert Burns; this was the first time I’ve written in Scots to that extent, which was a challenge given that obviously it’s not my native tongue and above all I wanted to use it correctly and respectfully. To that end I dove deeply into reading and listening to Burns’ poetry this month—“Tam O’Shanter” has been stuck in my head for weeks! And I relied on the fantastic resources provided through the Dictionars o the Scots Leid and Len Pennie‘s wonderful Scots Word of the Day posts. Scots is very much a living, breathing language and I had a wonderful time exploring writing in it.
The start of the poem also uses standard habbie, which is a stanza form popular in 18th century Scotland favoured by Robert Burns. Although it takes a bit of practice to get the hang of, it’s super fun to use and enables verses with some fun pacing—especially great for comedic poetry! If you’re interested in trying your hand at it, I did a workshop on standard habbie for our Return to Form project last autumn. It’s completely free, fully closed captioned, accessible to ages 14+, and available on YouTube (link below). For that project we also commissioned new poems in standard habbie from Angie Strachan and Mark Grist; they wrote hilarious, incisive pieces that you can watch here.
Hope you enjoy the poem and that if you’re writing, it’s going great! Happy Burns Night, all! —K