Balloch Open Mic Blog: ‘To whom it may concern –’

fsw anthology

A friend recently dropped in a new publication in which she was featured. The book, ‘‘To whom it may concern’ Arbroath Anthology, was a collection of letters of petition to commemorate the 700th Anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath (April 6th 1320). The Federation of Writers Scotland, who produced this book, decided, as it states in the preface written by A C Clarke, ‘These could be from anyone (or anything) to anyone or anything and could be in prose or verse.’ A C goes on to comment: ‘I had no idea what to expect when I looked at the submissions. I was delighted by the diversity of petitioners – from cave-spiders to the Pope anent Robert the Bruce!) – to Warlords R Us (an irreverent take on the Declaration of Arbroath itself; by far the most frequent petitioner was our planet or its representatives in the natural world, petitioning us to mend our ways. Those petitioned in this inventive and often surprising set of submissions ranged from dandelions to the Deity Himself. A great deal of wit was on display, but many heartfelt and poignant pieces too. And it was good to see all three languages of Scotland represented. I greatly enjoyed reading them, so thank you all.’

Ann MacKinnon

Dear Mr Swinney Re the Scots Leid Policie, 2015

Gaelic is deein oot an if we dinnae dae summat Scots will gan the same wey so I’m jeein ye oan tae yaise it.
The Scots Leid Policie promist a mair hiech profile bit in the midst o awthin else it seems tae hae tummeled doon.

Siller wis pit intae it
bit it needs a bit mair proddin
tae ‘heise it up an push it forrit.’
Mair yuisso Scots is a must.

Fur ower lang we’ve allooed
oor tongue to be haudin doon,
skelpit aboot, intil a messin,
neither yin thing nor anither.

As lang as nunners o us
spik it, then shairly it’s faisible
tae see it as ‘a worthy and well way.’
tae keep oor leid livin.

It’s the weans we maun lippan oan.
The haudback is that ingis is spoke
aw ower and fowk ur less minfu
o bletherin in their naitril tongue.

Micht I pit forrit that mair eddication
Is fell needit, an it cud be dun
as lang as eneuch o us want it.
so come oan – ie us oor voice.

ann mckinnon

Quotations from Scots Leid Policie, 2015’ heise it up an push it forrit.’and ‘a worthie and weel way’ 
the ‘heise…

The friend who gave me the book was Ann MacKinnon. Ann writes poetry in both English and Scots and has had success in the McCash poetry Competition. She has been published in various anthologies, magazines and pamphlets. She was awarded a new Writers Award and, as a result, had her collection ‘Nae Flooers’ published by Tapsalteerie. She has a lifelong interest in promoting the Scots language and feels that not enough is done to promote it, hence her letter to John Swinney, reminding him about the Scots Language Policy.

charlie gracie home

Charlie Gracie I wrote about previously. His piece reached out to me, evoking a deep emotional response.

Dear Mother Earth

We are writing in response to recent worrying events, Things are getting out of hand.
As you know, from the God itself, and well established in the legally binding text of Genesis 1, we were given dominion over you; the fish of the sea … the fowl in the air… the cattle… every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth… herb bearing seed… and so on.
It has become apparent that you do not understand what dominion means. The plants, limited to instinctive responses only, have nothing to say on the matter. Even the so-called higher order animals are, and we mean this in the kindest possible way, unsuitable for the task of maintaining order: the brutal chimps, the brainless lumps of whales (if we see another one on the telly with the fifth columnist Attenborough…)
As immediate actions, we demand that you stop the typhoons, the melting of the ice, the disease, the droughts, the floods. They only add to our human burden: this is why we were given dominion – you cannot be trusted to take right and proper care of us as you should.
Going forward, leave it to us to determine the best course of action. Once we’ve made sure that the economy is stable enough to spare the extra cash, we will come back to you with a draft plan.
In the meantime, and in the spirit of partnership that we want to develop, we say to you: cease and desist.
And please do not worry, we have it all in hand. We have dominion.

Sincerely yours,
(add your name)

On Zoom

On Tuesday, 6th April I tuned in to my very first live performance on zoom. I have been too overwhelmed by ‘invitations’ to attend a variety of online events so have avoided all. I felt that I wanted to support the FWS so ‘tuned in’ to ‘To whom it may concern’ Arbroath Anthology’. It was well worth it. Such a high standard and writing conveys so much more when read out loud. Well done, indeed to all who contributed, in any way, to this publication.

The event will be available soon on the FWS website as a Youtube event at

The May launch will be on Zoom on Tuesday 4 May from 3pm. The zoom link will be sent out a week beforehand.

.For copies (£2 each plus postage and packing) the person to contact is Jenifer Harley [email protected].

14 April, 2021

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