MacDairmid Brownsbank SCIO is committed to conserving Brownsbank Cottage at Candymill, near Biggar, where the poet Hugh MacDiarmid, born Christopher Grieve, lived for the last 27 years of his life until his death in 1978.   Hugh MacDiarmid, a man of contradictions, was a controversial figure throughout his life, politically and in relation to his views on literature and language.  From his early years he was enthralled by books and determined to be a poet.  He became a major poet of the twentieth century, writing in English and Scots.

The SCIO thus seeks not only to preserve the cottage and its artefacts but to build on MacDiarmid’s legacy by contributing to the development of Scottish literature.  There will be a variety of ways to achieve this, including re-establishing a Writer-in-residence programme, offering research opportunities in liaison with academic institutions and providing educational input.  Writing requires encouragement at all ages as recognised in Education Scotland’s Literacy and English Experiences and Outcomes and to this end the SCIO is making space available on its website for displaying poetry, in English and Scots, by Scottish secondary school students.

South Lanarkshire secondary schools are the first to be invited to participate in the scheme.  The plan is for five displays over the next twelve months, each consisting of work from a maximum of four schools and each display lasting for two months.  It will be for each school to decide which student year should be included, taking into account the demands of the curriculum and the aspects of creativity in the school’s current focus.  MacDiarmid’s Brownsbank is able to accept up to thirty pieces for consideration from each school and it is anticipated that a maximum of four pieces will be displayed from each school.  School, school year and student’s first name will be the only identifying features of authorship on the website.

The focus for this year’s displays is place.  The subject is deliberately broad allowing students to consider nation, city or town, geographical features or buildings of any stature.  In choosing focus and language students will need to be aware of the power and extent of publication when the medium is the internet.  Students’ poems may be in any poetic form and include prose poems.  Each piece should be no more than forty lines and may be considerably less.  Where computers are readily available for student use font, formatting and electronically designed illustration can be determined by students.

Details for the submission process are attached as Annex 1.

All work submitted must be accompanied by the consent of parent or guardian.  MacDiarmid’s Brownsbank proforma for this is attached as Annex 2.

Further information is available from macdiarmidsbrownsbank@gmail.com

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A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle

 ‘And let the lesson be - to be yersel’s,
Ye needna fash gin it’s to be ocht else.

To be yersel’s - and to mak’ that worth bein’,

 Nae harder job to mortals has been gi’en.’