Congratulations to our 2019 Prize Winners  


Wigtown Prize | Judge: John Burnside    

Wigtown Scottish Gaelic | Judge: Kevin MacNeil    

Wigtown Scots | Judge: Gerda Stevenson     

Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize | Judge: John Burnside    

Dumfries & Galloway Fresh Voice Award | Wigtown Festival Company Board of Trustees Panel



Wigtown Prize | Winner: Mhairi Owens, Shiftin

Wigtown Prize | Runner-up: Claudia Daventry, Twilight


Wigtown Scottish Gaelic | Winner: Daibhidh Eyre, Claidheamh mo sheanair

Wigtown Scottish Gaelic | Runner-up: Marcas Mac an Tuairneir, #AgusMise 


Wigtown Scots Prize | Winner: Dorothy Lawrenson, The Lowes

Wigtown Scots Prize | Runner-up: Robert Duncan, Fower Attacks


Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize | Winner: Beverley Bie Brahic, Catch and Release


Dumfries & Galloway Fresh Voice Award | Winner: Clare Phillips





Wigtown Prize | Winner: Mhairi Owens, Shiftin


Ah seen the Cailleach

wakent bi

the lilac shades

o autumn cairies

flittin ower

her face.

She rose wi a stang

tae peesies soonin

roon the derklins


pued the sky

doon, lik a pelt

aboot her shooders

an let scaum

tae silhouette

ivery rig.

She restit

oan her staff

till she heard

fae the nor’east gales,

then lit oot

a hoast that lownt

tae a beast’s souch

and hirsilt yont,

a hert’s spit

in the winter nicht


Cailleach | creator shape-shifting hag; cairies | moving clouds; stang | ache; peesies | lapwings; derklins |  twilight; scaum | char; rig |  ridge; hoast |  cough; lownt | died away; souch | pant; hirsilt yont | moved away; hert | stag; spit | likeness.




Wigtown Prize | Runner-up: Claudia Daventry, Twilight


after Philip Larkin


I drink all day, and get to work at night.

In waiting, early evening sunlight slants

across the fields and sets the panes alight

while complicating nets of midges dance

a reel of glinting mica-flecks,

a frantic airborne rush of death and sex,

its dancers heedless of their looming fate.

Their loose abandon fills me with a dread:

no sting in being dead

when all your purpose is to procreate.


The drink I drink all day’s not drink, but dreck

- the seeds popped from a cherry: burn and sluice

with scalding water till the water’s black.

A single shot of canephora juice

grabs your cortex right behind the eyes,

to overdose is said to be unwise

but, in the end, it helps me stay awake

which doesn’t seem a monumental ask

- no other way to multitask.

I have no clue how many shots I take


or what it’s doing to my viscera.

I don’t reject the dark sarcophagus

but focus on the mind. How Cicero,

in kindly baring his oesophagus

to ease his captors’ hacking tracheotomy

allowed the ultimate dichotomy:

the father of all freedoms now turned mute,

the flock of birds inside his skull set free,

the head and hands nailed up by Antony

too late to unwrite what the thinker wrote.


A house is all we strive for, in our head

- the ultimate game-changer is a roof.

No sooner do we have one than we dread

being stuck: the broken-marriage stats are proof.

No matter how much love it took to build

the thing, or pleasure in the task fulfilled,

far greater is the impulse to destroy

- as Pascal has it, I will never be

contented in the room I built for me,

where curtains, furniture, then people, cloy.  


The light is fading. Though the stuccoed wall

of this old farmhouse glows a roughcast pink

as shadows stretch across the hall,

beyond, a tap drips on a wineglass in the sink

its drip and drip percussive with the clock

– an orchestra too subtle, still, to mock

this Dutch interior, its borrowed slate,

its out-of-whack perspective. Like a psalm,

a quiet crackle in the calm:

his stack of letters burning in the grate.




Wigtown Scottish Gaelic | Winner: Daibhidh Eyre, Claidheamh mo sheanair


Seòmar-leughaidh. Cèisean-leabhraichean

àrd is fad às agus uile làn bheachdan

nach bi ag aontachadh rium idir.


Fàileadh nam pìoban

a tha air sgeilp ghil an t-simileir

agus an claidheamh Iapanach rin taobh -


crochte air a' bhalla

ann an truaill ghlas-uaine -

cuimhne dhen chogadh ann am Burma.


Chan eil còir agam fhosgladh ach

tha a’ mheatailt fuar na mo làmhan,

is lùib ann cho tarraingeach, ealanta - 


lann na claidheamh a bha uair cho dìomhair

tha mi ga fhaicinn ceart a-niste,

rùisgte agus dealrach ann an leth sholas an fhoghair.


Tha dòrdan de mheirg faisg air a' cheann

ach tha am faobhar fhathast cunnartach, geur.

Tana, dìreach, stòlta, cruaidh,


tha an claidheamh a' faireachdainn

cèin na mo dhà dhòrn.

Sgorte air tha faclan cèin ann an cànan cèin


nach b' urrainn dhomh leughadh.

Ach tha sin mar bu chòir, 's dòcha,

is leth shaoghal ann eadarainn.



Chan eil còir agam a bhith an seo.

Tha an deasg gam shearmonachadh.


Cuiridh mi an claidheamh air falbh.

Dùinidh mi an doras agus

cha bheir mi sùil air a-rithist.


Chan eil e ceart a bhith ga sgrùdadh

na lomnochd, na fhosgailteachd, na nàire.




Wigtown Scottish Gaelic | Runner-up: Marcas Mac an Tuairneir, #AgusMise 


An-diugh, sgrìobhaidh sinn  

dà fhacal, nach comharraich  

còrdadh ach co-fhaireachdainn; 


Dlùth-phàirteachas an gach 

ceàrnaigh na doimhne. 


San dòigh seo, ’s tu mi, 

’s mi thusa, còmhla nar  

n-eòlas cruaidh co-roinnte. 


Am boireannach na  

suidhe aig deasg, no  

air sòfa is fòn na làimh; 


Thèid inntinn air ais,  

gu bòthar dorchadais, 

talla-dannsa làn dhaoine 

nach do leag an làmh a 

bhean rithe.  


Sàmhchair an ceàrn  

ciùin na eanchainn. 


San dòigh seo, ’s mi thu, 

’s tu mise, cuimhneach 

air an oidhche sin; 


Ùr-thillte bho obair, bha e 

feitheamh rium sa chidsin 

- a’ mhisg air - 

mar a thug an deoch cead 

dha a mhiann a choileanadh. 


A cheann gun bhliam,  

is dòcha gun sguabadh 

an tachartas bho inntinn, 

’s e pràmhach, dìon na shuain. 


Ach nuair a dh’èirich mi 

sa mhadainn gus a  

chorragan fhaireachdainn 

am broinn mo bhriogais, 


Bha fhios gun d’ fhàg e 

làrach air mo chraiceann, 

air nach faigh mi cuidhteas 

gu bràth; a shiubhlas 

tron t-saoghal leam, 

gu fàth-fiata. 


Thu mi,  

Mi thu  

agus mise.  




Wigtown Scots Prize | Winner: Dorothy Lawrenson, The Lowes


Daunderin on the shore

thae simmer forenichts

heid doon lik a whaup

wi's neb i the grummel,


Aa'd rake the glessy sand

fur buckies or clinkers,

ony toy Aa cud fordel.


Syne Aa'd strauchten, rax

ma hippit hurdies,

an stell masel fur the lowe

i the westren lift, that still


Aa canna thole.

Thae gleeds o reid an gowd

wad wrack the thrawnest hert;


they steik me yet

an reive ma saul

athoot Aa jink ma een

the ither airt


oot owre the brae,

tae thon hooses

whaur ilka lozen lunts


wi a glent o reid-gowd

lik a bairnie's nicht-licht

that lowes stieve an siccar,

an bides the hale nicht lang.




Wigtown Scots Prize | Runner-up: Robert Duncan, Fower Attacks


The first attack ye didnae ken was yin:

runnin tae catch a bus in Burntisland

efter a winter’s shift, dovered ower,

waukent wi mune-gash faces whirlin about ye,

white hauns flaffin in front o your een like doos,

and vices: “Are ye aa richt?” “Can we help ye?”

But you - auld sodger, plater’s helper -

“Naw, I’ll be fine,” - straicht on tae the nixt bus,

hapt in your thochts.


The second, three year later, Setterday nicht,

hame fae the pub – I thocht it wes the drink,

reddin the bed-settee fast as I cuid,

breengin intae the scullery for a bowl,

feelin the wecht hit it as ye tuimed your wame,

and aa the while a wild luik in your een,

blinkin aroun the room, seemin thankfu

my mither and brither werenae there tae see ye.


The third – the very nixt nicht, stocherin in,

stane-cauld sober efter a twal-oor shift

ye shouldnae hae dune – wid never dae again –

wi that same luik, this time for us aa tae see;

and nae dout this time what your wild luik meant.


The last ane, six month later, midsimmer:

my brither struck dumfounert in the playgrund

by a wee lassie, “Billy, dae ye ken your dad’s deid?”

And me, a sakeless callant on the thrashel,

met by my mither’s reid, begrutten een.

Syne up the stair tae see ye, laid out,

a five-stane rickle o banes, your white pow

aa skull and skin, your wild een shut in peace,

and mine gowkin and govin, takin it in,

niver tae mistak yon luik again.




Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize | Winner: Beverley Bie Brahic, Catch and Release


Judge's Poem Choice | On Vancouver Island


Not forgotten, the place grandfather built

Facing the mainland across Georgia Strait;

Like a long-house it was close to the ground

With a bucket of fuchsia bells to ward

Off the primeval: unlogged, undivided;

Masses of the plants grandmother favoured,

Old World species, gladiolus, sweet peas.

Granddad’s fishing tackle hung in a crawl space

And when I visited he took me out

For a day of silence in a hired boat.


A PDF version of Beverley's beautiful pamphlet can be found here and a copy can be purchased from our shop here.




Dumfries & Galloway Fresh Voice Award | Winner: Clare Phillips

Judging Panel's Poem Choice | AMBITION for a Left Life


(For Carol Ann Duffy as she completes her term as Poet Laureate)


I read you on the edge
of writing. Always. On the tip of it

tripping over a perfect line to get one down
that’s mine.
It’ll be a breech birth this baby.

Stop! I. Will. Let. You. Hold. On
To. Me. For. Longer. Chuck me up in the air, my ambition
to gossip up there with the goddess nowt
but a piece of toast if I don’t. Toast. I’ll be
toast if I don’t.

Eye me. Aye. Me. Here

for a big slice
of the pie before we go. To not bottle it.

Am I too late? Too-close-coming? I will scratch you, you
alley cat genius, you vennel ventriloquist

break your skin
to see if you bleed poetry.

Understand, and I think you do
this is my ‘last chance saloon’. If
I stand you a whisky, will you slip
me something under the bar? Look
the other way as I steal the DNA
from your glass?