Jean Atkin

We feature work by poet Jean Atkin to mark National Poetry Day 2011.

Cover of book 'Lost at Sea'
Cover design by Hugh Bryden.

Jean Atkin lives on a hilltop in Dumfriesshire. Her poetry has been widely published.

Jean has been a winner in several poetry competitions, including:

  • The Torbay Prize (2009)
  • The Mirehouse Poetry Competition (2010)
  • The Ravenglass Poetry Press Competition (2010) as a result of which Ravenglass published her pamphlet, 'The Treeless Region'.

These two poems are taken from 'Lost at sea', published by Roncadora Press.

The poems are about the life of Thomas Gilbert Hunter Aiken, the poet's great grandfather on Shetland, and his emigration. The family name was at that time 'Aiken', not 'Atkin'.



A plane drones out of grey
gyring down to Sumburgh
over sand hairlined
with threads of taing.

A mile out from The Knabb, a red
oil tanker blows against her chain.



Lost at Sea

A herring gull tears
on a roadside rabbit
at Lunabister.
Thin islands blow
like streamers off
the coast.
The custodian at Boddam
looks past me for
his view of voe
and surnames lost
at sea. Invisible
from here, in haar,
Garthsetters and Mansons,
Leasks and Mouats.
There used
to be Aikens at Ness,
Aikens at Ellister.
Once they were on Burra-Isle.

I'm reading graves at Papil.
Rub tough rain of lichen
off grey stone. 'William
Aiken who with crew
was drowned
March 12th 1866'.
I straighten up to find
the view his widow had:
the stones, the green,
the graves, the grazing
sheep. Invisible
from here, the sea
is sweeping up the voe
between the Burras.


National Poetry Day 2011

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