OAN Setterday we taen a trek ower tae the Borders, oor destination Hawick. Ah’d bin invitit tae read at the Hairt o Hawick music fest’s spaken wird event. This add-oan tae the fest hud bin organised bi the talentit young Hawick makar Thomas Clark. Thomas is alsae the resident bard fir Selkirk Fitba Club (why dae mair fitba clubs no hae their ain bard?) an him an his wife Sara are eident uphauders o the written wird in their airt an dae much tae support an heize leeterature in Hawick an the surroundin area.

The drive frae New Cumnock tae Hawick wis a pleasuir in itsel; the sat-nav taen me the “main road” mind – taewarts Gretna thence via Canonbie an Langholm tae Hawick – a hunner mile jaunt! Hawick heich street wis lowpin an buzzin wi croods o fowk, aa heidin tae the sindrie venues o the fest. We first o aa keekit ben the Hawick Hub; the buildin wis aince the auld Corn Exchange, but haes hus new life braithed intil it as a braw mutli-purpose arts centre. The café area wis rockin wi the souns o American folk an roots music (wi some guid auld Rock ’n’ Roll an C&W thrown in fir guid measuir!). Oor Mag an me ordert up some scran an a coffee an taen in some o the festival vibe; this year they hud some rael authentic Stateside musicians – an maist o the “fringe” concerts are free tae the public!; Rodney Branigan (frae Texas); Ben Jordan (Virginia, USA); the J&B Brothers (Austin, Texas); an boy, cuid these fellahs pick a gee-tar! An intriguin performer (fir muso-anoraks!) wis the guitarist George Borowski – the oreeginal “Guitar George” frae Dire Straits classic sang, “Sultans of Swing”! Fir the music fest the heidliners fir the weekend wir the talentit Scots sangwriter/musician Boo Hewerdine, oan the Setterday, whilst heidlinin oan the Sunday they hud the fawmous American singer/sangwriter Dean Friedman. An eclectic an international mix o kenspeckle ingine.

Ither venues sic as Coopers Bar (open mic sessions an evenin gigs), Cornucopia/Old Hawick News Office (spaken wird, warkshoaps) as weel as outdoor gigs at the Civic Space an Wilton Lodge Park Bandstand, beltit oot live music fir aa tastes an occasions!

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But ah wis there fir the Spoken Word an the poetry! Tae this end we left the Hub an crossed the road tae wir venue, the aforesaid Cornucopia Room, rin bi Julie Witford. Julie hus a lang track record in the airts an the biggin is nemmed fir the arts magazine she warks oan; “Cornucopia” (http://www.cornucopia.net/about). Cornucopia wis a braw space fir poetry; licht, bricht an airy, wi guid acoustics!

Thomas Clark hud pu’d thegaither some o the Border’s finest makars tae gie modren poetry a heize fir the fowk o the festival, mony o thaim award winners in the “craft or sullen art” that is poetry. Bridget Khursheed’s poetry is infit bi ecological an natuir themes an issues, ane o her poems, that gien a leet o technical terms fir pairts o plants, wis a tour de force o language (it minded me o that sib Border poet Hugh MacDiarmid’s fawmous poem “On a Raised Beach”). Bridget alsae hus a sardonic an dry wit that hud her audience lauchin an smilin. Anita John’s poetry is cannily biggit frae eident observations o historical buildins, place nems an the like; an warm an human ettlins o family relationships that touch the hairt. Tom Murray, an ex-editor o the byordnar Borders poetry magazine, “The Eildon Tree”, read us poems wi a family connection; humorous yet insichtfu glimpses intil his bairntid an upbringin. His sister an her man wha’d cam alang tae the gig wis muived tae tears bi Tom’s readin. Gin thon’s no the virr an pouer o poetry then ah dinnae ken whit is!?

We hud a brek in the middle fir nibbles an nicotine! Then oan wi the motley aince agane! Brian Holton made us aa tak tent o the aald Border’s leid. Naebody scrieves Borders Scots better as Brian Holton. He brocht a souch o Tammas the Rhymer an James Hogg intil the room; his owersettins, an readins, o classic Chinese verse in Scots hud the audience seelently entranced. His versions o poems bi the auncient makars Du Fu, Li Bai, Qiao Ji an Ma Zhiyuan soundit as gin the ink that composed thaim wis still wat oan the page! Brian’s buik “Staunin Ma Lane” is a tour de force o the Scots leid uised in translation. Sara Clark (Thomas’s better hauf!) read poems o modren day life in Hawick an the Borders. She turnt a shift warked in Subway intil a meditation oan licht an sheddae; clevir stuff!

Next up wis the award winnin dramatist, writer an poet Jules Horne. Jules is a poetic polymath! She read a maisterpiece o wit an ingine that juggled Borders myth an tradeetion an played wi the history o hou the wird “Tweed” cam aboot. It hud us aa in stitches! Last (an probably least!) we hud some chiel cried Rab Wilson, wha addit his ain wee chuckie tae this muckle cairn o Borders poetry.

Thomas Clark ettles oan makkin this spaken wird event at Hairt o Hawick an annual event. Gin he dis ah reckon ye better buik yer tickets early neist year, gin this braw an magical event wis ocht tae gae oan!

Bi nou the sun wis oot (a rerr craitur this simmer!) sae we ettled oan a mair scenic route hame tae Ayrshire. Takkin wir time we detoured ower the Borders hills intil Ettrick Valley, then oan ootby Meggett an Talla reservoirs – a road that is ane o Scotland’s hidden gems! This braw kintra o oors – a poem in itsel!