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The University of Edinburgh's three creative writing prizes, open for 2024 submissions
Edward McLaren: The Unfurled Teeger

Edward McLaren: The Unfurled Teeger

Runner-Up for the 2023 Sloan Prize

Balancing work on a novel about an occultist soldier coming back to life in modern England, Edward McLaren studies an MSc in English Modernism at Edinburgh with an emphasis on the role of the Chinese character zhong in the poetry of Ezra Pound. Besides academia, he has a strong interest in Haneke films, psychoanalysis, and drinking coffee like a vampire.

The Unfurled Teeger

For Dorothy

The orange sky glydes throu in
strips the nicht;
the nicht the starns in ees
spell a lie:
Thare be Lawland teegers
& turns it intae a spell.
In the luggage o Scots
thare be something else.

Speak claws o leid.
The past shairpens its stangs
on new airels. Leuk!
Abuin the Folly o Scotland
lichts nae lion
but the unfurled teeger
that kerves ontae the stane,
Auld warld rise up
in bitterness o this ae.
wi a mou its awner.

teegertiger, leidlanguage, airelstones, stangsfangs

Edward says: This poem is designed to fuse the poetic Scots of Hugh MacDiarmid with the standard (or Edinburgh) Scots of my late grandmother. As such, it might be considered to express a variation on Ezra Pound’s idea of The Rectification of Names’: returning words and images to their etymological origins. But the difference here is that the process is not complete. Words with a patriotic or even imperial resonance outside of Scotland, like ‘Auld’, blend with words still alive in Dutch, like ‘Leuk’, from the Old Norse. This is done in order to create the unsettled environment possible for something like a Lowland tiger to emerge, contending both with the English lion and the nationalistic Scottish unicorn.


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