A SCOTTISH poet made the news the ither week wi the heidline “I have given up writing in my heartfelt language of Scots”. Ah cuidnae help but think tae masel whit prominence Kathleen Jamie wid hae goat in the national press gin she’d said: “I have given up writing in English.” Nou thon nae dout wid hae bin man bites dug instead o dug bitin man!

Whitane’er the raisons ahint this purely personal deceesion bi Jamie it heizes intil focus a wheen o auld canards an doonricht whids that plague ony writers in Scots. Ye need a gey thick skin tae scrieve in Scots in the first place. As ony fellae makars, scrievers, owersetters, story tellers, submitters tae letter columns an publicatiouns wull tell ye, the hellish legion o cyber-trolls are aye-an-oan waitin tae caw the feet frae ye an ding doun oor braw Scots leid ony chaunce they get.

There’ll aye bi thaim wha play political fitba wi Scots (or ony ither “lesser used language” in ony kintra o the warld fir that maitter) fir their ain cynical an twistit ends. Ye hae tae fuin the smeddum tae ignore that kind o nonsense; these are Kipling’s “monkeys in the trees” – an their haivers is nae warth a docken. They sap oor energy an wid divert us awa frae valuable creative time gin ye’d let thaim. Fir masel ah believe Scots is entirely legitimate and readable. Tho as wi ony worthwhile thing a bit o effort is required.

Mind you, at the end o the day, aathing is kindae poleetical. Hugo Claus, ane o Belgium’s leadin 20th C writers said: “The particular precedes the universal and if you want to be particular you are also political because there is nothing that is not political; no-one can say they are outside politics.” Sae sook it up an dael wi it! But dinnae let it stoap ye frae writin in yer “heartfelt language”.

Gin onybody detects a bit o the auld antisyzygy in ma piece here then aa the better!

Scrievin in Scots ebbs an flows lik the tide. We’re ackwally in a verra fertile time the nou fir writin in wir ain leid. As wi ither momentous times in the past hunner year or sae this is exactly the sort o period whan we shuid be embracin an writin in Scots – no backin awa frae it! An aye, o coorse it isnae easy! Onythin warth haein isnae easy! (spier o Carles Puigdemont!) Ah hae constantly delved intil dictionaries tae expand ma hoard o wird treasuir! An why no!? Is that no whit writers hae ayewis duin!? We’re anely takkin back an hainin whit hus bin stolen frae us in hunners o years o “rape an murther an pillage” o the Scots tongue.

Thair are aiblins as braw an skeelie scrievers in Scots the day as there hus e’er bin in Scotland – the rest o this column cuid be taen up wi a leet o their nems. Mony o thaim no nems ye wull hae heard o – acause they dinnae get the exposure an publicity they sae richly desairve in their ain kintra. Ah wunner why that is!?

Gin Kathleen Jamie cannae fuin poets writin “real poems, in good fulsome Scots”, then ah dout she’s nae luikin verra haurd. An whit’s “real poems” when they’re at hame? The wunnerfu “The Smeddum Test” anthology, 21st century poems in Scots, a gaither up o submissions an entries tae the McCash/Herald/Glesga Uni poetry prize competition ower the last decade or sae, kythes mair as a hunner braw poems written in “good fulsome Scots” – an they luik “real” tae me. Ither publicatiouns, sic as “Lallans”, “Northwords Now” (check oot Sara Clark’s braw new Scots poems in latest edition!), “The Eildon Tree”, “Gutter” publish poems in Scots (an in Gaelic an English). Aiblins these magazines, an ithers like thaim, shuid actively encourage their readership tae submit poems in Scots, or nou an agane hae a dedicatit Gaelic/Scots issue!? We bide in Scotland eftir aa!

Government initiatives fir supportin the Scots leid hae bin gien a heize up in raicent years. The Scots Language Centre’s braw wabsite is the online “gae tae” place fir aathing relatin tae the Scots leid an is funded bi a government grant. But when ye compare the amount o funding Scots gets in Scotland compared wi the funding gien tae Ulster Scots in Northern Ireland or Gaelic here at hame, then the disparity is undeemous! Aa indigenous leids shuid be supportit bi public siller – but it shuid be a level playin field, an aa indigenous leids shuid be financially supportit wi equal funding tae the samen tune. Scots is, an aye hus bin in this respeck, verra much the puir relation! (leeterally!).

Ah’m richt saddened that a makar o Kathleen Jamie’s byordnar talent shuid be giein up oan scrievin in Scots. Mind, ah’m nae sae shair that she really wull. The first time a poem cams tae her heid an speiks tae her in Scots then she’s perfeckly free tae chainge her mind an re-embrace her Scots tongue.

Jamie’s finest wark in Scots aiblins sits richtly amang the pantheon o great female Scots makars o the past century; Violet Jacob, Marion Angus or Edith Anne Robertson. Ah’ll feenish wi this cuttie poem bi Edith Anne Robertson:

The Scots Tongue

Gin I’m a livan tongue loe me;

Ablins we’ll hae mair bairns:

Gin I’m a deid tongue nae call for keenin,

Ye’ll find me with the gods

Ayont the reaveries of Time:

Yon are the gowden tongues!