My Bannockburn Poem

Kathleen Jamie

19 Jun 2013

When I began to write my Bannockburn poem, I knew some things already. I knew it would not concern battles or victories. It wouldn't be triumphalist, and it wouldn't espouse a narrow 'nationalism'.

I wanted the poem to be modern, open-handed and generous, and to connect with the land around the Bannockburn site.

That said, because Bannockburn is so important in Scottish history, it seemed proper to acknowledge our cultural traditions, especially poetry and song, especially song about landscape.

The rotunda offers views north and south, and I thought it would be good to embrace the other 'airts' too, and so incorporate the whole of Scotland.

Because it was an outdoors piece, subjected to wind and snow, it had to be short and strong. So, the poem uses a traditional form and incorporates phrases from a number of other poets. Burns is in there, as is Hamish Henderson, Violet Jacob, and 'Anon'. A good team!

Of course I'm pleased 'my' poem was chosen and all that, but I don't think of this work as 'mine' any longer. It’s built from traditional materials, so to speak, and it’s spun into the future, and like the land it describes, it belongs to everyone that appreciates it.

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