Shortlist announced for sought-after poetry award

The National Library of Scotland has announced the shortlist for the 2006 Callum Macdonald Memorial Award (CMMA), one of the most sought-after prizes in poetry pamphlet publishing in Scotland.

The winner and runners up will be announced at a ceremony to be held at the Library on Monday 15 May at 6pm, when all the entries will be on display. The top prize is £500 and the presentation of the Callum Macdonald Quaich, with two runner-up prizes of £250.

The short listed entries are:

  • 'The Eel's Eyebrows' edited by Richard Medrington and Elspeth Murray, published by Puppet State Press
  • 'Exploding Cicadas' by Martin Bates, published by White Adder Press
  • 'Glass Works' by Stephanie Green, published by Cat's Pyjamas Publications
  • 'North Uist Sea Poems' by Pauline Prior-Pitt (self-published)
  • 'Sea Stories' by Lesley Harrison, published by Pinkfoot Press
  • 'Under the Threshold' by Dorothy Lawrenson, published by Perjink Press.

Overall, the judges felt that standards among entries to the CMMA this year were again extremely high in terms of both poetry and production. A considerable number of pamphlets are from the Western and Northern Isles, and it is also notable that four of the six short listed entries are by women. Another of the short-listed entries, 'The Eel's Eyebrows', is notable for the fact that the poems and artwork were produced by children of ages 7-12 years in a single day at a poetry workshop in Perth.

Pamphlets allow for experimental ways of organising and presenting a sequence of poems, often following a particular theme or experience. This year, for instance, some look at local or family history, others relate to art in various forms, whilst many are gathered around a topic, project or locality.

Tessa Ransford, one of the award judges, said: 'It feels like entering a playground of poets where poets of all ages and backgrounds are trying out different apparatus and adventuring into new forms of both theme and presentation. The freedom and potential of the pamphlet for poets is opening up the field in exciting new ways, and I truly believe that poetry in pamphlet form has become a cutting edge of creativity in Scottish poetry.'

The award was created in 2001 to recognise publishing skill and effort and to validate the practice of poetry publication in pamphlet form. The award also aims to encourage the preservation of printed material of this kind and all entries submitted are taken into the collections of the National Library of Scotland. As a result the Library currently holds nearly 200 of the finest contemporary Scottish poetry pamphlets in its collections.

The Callum Macdonald Memorial Award has once again been made possible by the generous support of the Michael Marks Charitable Trust.

4 May 2006

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