Gabach, Gleg, Glib: Transreading Scots & Gaelic Poetry

Gabach, Gleg, Glib: Transreading Scots & Gaelic Poetry

By unpacking Scottish poetry’s kist o riches, we can discover how thought and feeling echo across languages.

The language we most often read in books is rarely the same as the language we use with friends, at home, or in the street. Even if you see yourself as monolingual, you’re likely to fluently switch registers in different settings, bringing out different sides of your personality with different voices. Poetry, too, allows us to slip between the ideas of different tongues. By reading and writing minority language poetry, we learn more about how language works, and what different languages make possible. 

This course is an accessible introduction to poetry in two of Scotland’s minority languages, Gaelic and Scots. Each session, we’ll read one poem in each language (with accompanying English translations), and write our own responses, using exercises of creative translation and thematic reply to explore out own tongues. The course is interested in rereading and misreading, play and pranks, serious silliness and ridiculous romance. We’ll look for strange ways to reach across languages. 

We’ll read across centuries and styles, looking at both well-known figures like Màiri Mhòr nan Òran and less-read contemporary writers like Alison Flett, looking at poetry of praise and condemnation from Robert Burns to Meg Bateman, and reflecting on the meaning of language from Somhairle MacGill-Eain to Raman Mundair. 

You do not need to be fluent in either Scots or Gaelic to make the most of this course: you need only an interest in Scottish poetry and a desire to explore the possibilities of language.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. No live chats. Suitable for UK & International students.

To apply for a concessionary rate, please send relevant documentation showing your eligibility for one of our concessions to administ[email protected]. Conditions of eligibility are detailed here. If you have any questions or wish to be added to the waiting list of a sold-out course, please email [email protected]. For more information visit our Online Courses page. 

Image Credit: Birmingham Museums Trust

About Harry Josephine Giles View Profile

Harry Josephine Giles is a writer and performer from Orkney, living in Leith. Their verse novel Deep Wheel Orcadia was published by Picador in October 2021 and won the 2022 Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction book of the year. Her poetry collections – Tonguit (Freight Books 2015) and The Games (Out-Spoken Press 2018) – were shortlisted for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award (twice), the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and the Saltire Poetry Book of the Year. They have a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Stirling. Their show Drone debuted in the Made in Scotland Showcase at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe and toured internationally, and their performance What We Owe was picked by the Guardian’s best-of-the-Fringe 2013 roundup – in the “But Is It Art?” category. 

‘The Poetry School has helped me to find a way of going deeper into the poem-writing process, I have learnt how to read other poets' poems and have gained more knowledge about how to give feedback and receive it. The feedback I was given by the tutor was very useful and helped me become a critic of my own work.’

– Spring 2023 School Survey

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