Poet Niall O'Gallagher
Poet Niall O'Gallagher

Guest editor of Best Scottish Poems announced

The Scottish Poetry Library has announce that rising star Roseanne Watt is the guest editor of the SPL’s annual online anthology Best Scottish Poems 2019.

Best Scottish Poems is an annual online anthology of the year’s best poems written by a Scottish poet or poet based in Scotland.

Each year the anthology is edited by a different person. Past editors have included Jen Hadfield, Alan Spence and Janice Galloway.

Roseanne Watt is a poet, filmmaker and musician from Shetland. In 2018, her debut collection Moder Dy won the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award; Moder Dy is also nominated for the 2018 Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year Award. She lives and works in Edinburgh.

Roseanne said: ‘It is a huge honour to be judging this year’s Best Scottish Poems, though I am very aware that a daunting task lies ahead of me.

‘The anthologies of previous years are testament to the quality and vitality of Scottish poetry; 2019 has certainly continued this trend. The winter months are for burying under, contemplation and staying warm; I can think of no finer way to achieve this than through reading the best of the year’s poetry.’

In previous years, guest editors had to read every book, pamphlet and literary magazine in search of great Scottish poems. It was a mammoth task.

In recognition of that, from now on, guest editors will read a longlist of roughly 300 poems chosen by Library staff and volunteers, who’ve spent the past few months combing publications for poems.

In December, Roseanne will be handed a folder full of poems from which she will choose 20 that will comprise Best Scottish Poems 2019. The intention is to publish BSP 2019 in March.

For the first time, Best Scottish Poems will have Gaelic and Scots editors too. The Gaelic language editor will be Niall O’Gallagher, while Derek Ross is the Scots editor. They will each choose two poems in addition to Watt’s shortlist, showcasing poems written in Gaelic and Scots.

Poet Niall O’Gallagher

Scottish Poetry Library director Asif Khan said: ‘Best Scottish Poems is one of our most popular online resources and it is a testament to the ongoing success of the anthology that a writer with such a growing reputation as Roseanne Watt is keen to take on the role of editor for 2019.

‘In addition, we welcome Niall and Derek to support the inclusion of Scots language and Gaelic poetry. The SPL is dedicated to supporting Scotland’s indigenous minoristised languages and this includes developing new opportunities for collaborative working in other languages with organisations including Literature Wales.’

In July, Niall O’Gallagher was named Bàrd Baile Ghlaschu, the city of Glasgow’s first Gaelic laureate. He won a New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust / Gaelic Books Council to work on his first collection of poems Beatha Ùr (Clàr, 2013) which was followed by Suain nan Trì Latha (Clàr, 2016). He’s working on a third collection, due in 2020. Niall is poetry editor of the Gaelic journal STEALL.

Derek Ross’ work has appeared in many magazines and anthologies. His poems in Scots have been featured by The Scots Language Centre, The Scottish Poetry Library, Scots podcasts, The Stanza Poetry Map of Scotland and the Channel 4 program Haud Yer Tongue.

The Scottish Poetry Library is a unique national resource and advocate for the art of poetry. The SPL is one of three poetry libraries in the UK, but the only one to be independently constituted and housed. The SPL now has over 45,000 items and has recently completed an extensive renovation of its building. Discover more about the SPL and its work throughout Scotland and beyond on the Library’s website: http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk