Runner Up for the 2022 Sloan Prize

Dorothy Lawrenson was born in Dundee and grew up in Fife. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh, an MFA in Creative Writing from Texas State University, and an MA in Fine Art from the University of Edinburgh. Her poems, in English and Scots, have appeared in journals including Edinburgh ReviewFrogmore PapersIrish PagesLallansThe Oxford MagazineSouth and Painted, spoken; and in anthologies including A Year of Scottish Poems and Best New British and Irish Poets 2019–2021. She has previously won both the Wigtown and Sangschaw prizes for writing in Scots.

See more of Dorothy’s work


 Three Sangs o Derkness an Licht 

i. Cutty Days

When the sun’s sweir 

tae rise an gleg tae dern 

his licht ablow a bowie 

he juist kittles the lift 

syne yirds his braivity 


whiles the mensefu mune 

wi nae sic fause blateness 

busks hersel an taks 

the road she’s used wi 

tentless o day or nicht 


or whether she’s hailly 

or ainly hauf hersel 

till, jimp an dwynin, 

she kens it’s lowsin time 

an syne she’s brand new. 


ii. Ghazal o the Leid

The nicht, i the blae lowe o ma laptap’s screen, 

I hae a mind tae scrieve a puckle thochts anent the leid. 


Lichtit like masel – whiles unco, whiles kenspeckle – 

whit can I mak o this whiles vauntie, whiles shent leid? 


It’s geylies like a braisant lassie struntin doon the street 

in fur coat an nae knickers, thon ill-towdent leid. 


I’m minded o some gangrel loon, wha’s chynged his claes 

atween ferm an toun an frae his neebors spulyied. 


The leid’s a lichtsome wee gazelle that jinks intae a wid, 

or mebbe it’s a twal-point stag that’s sweir tae be follaed. 


It’s a sair fecht tae gralloch sic a muckle dyke-louper, 

but I ettle at the hert an the wame o the leid. 


In the mids o ma life, I maun kittle up ma voice, 

for in ma prodigal barnheid, I misspent ma leid. 


In howffs an buiks, the leid cam speirin, tellt me 

it kent ma faither – though ma faither never kent the leid. 


Ae day, like a bee in ma bonnet, ma tung 

stertit tae dirl in ma heid wi thon contramashious leid. 


Eenoo, ma harns is dinsome, thrang wi wurds 

bizzin like bees in the byke o this eident leid. 


(Noo I’ve habbled thon spell-chacker, I hae killed 

thay kail-worms wimplin reid ablow ilk wurd like ‘leid’.) 


Dod, there isnae muckle siller tae be won 

furthsettin in this niver-pey-the-rent leid! 


The makar’s darg’s a muckle ontak, but mebbe 

it’s me that’s tae be makkit, an the Makar is the leid? 


It’s a quaitlike kind o worship, chackin at the keys, 

the screen leamin like a lozen in the kirk o the leid. 


Syne tak this sang o praise, an lat me scrieve 

Gift o the Makar at the fit o this heiven-sent leid. 


iii. Aubade

Yestreen we twa smoored the fire, 

dreeblin ase on ilka yella glaim 

tae mak it smooder till morn. 


We cooried doon, doverin taigled 

ticht as a wapped raip 

abuird a ship on a gurly sea. 


Whiles yin o’s wad feeze or jee, 

as if ettlin tae mak an affgaun 

in’s ain dozened currach. 


Sae ye girded your barrel-breist 

wi ma airms, but fient a craw-nest 

could gainstaun when keek-o-day’s 


assie glowe wis sent tae sinder us: 

auld mune i the new mune’s airms, 

fou as the fouth o ma hert.