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Press release: Classic tales and Chinese poetry to be translated in Scots

Ten new books awarded Scots Publication Grant

Ten new books in Scots have been awarded funding by the Scots Language Publication Grant. Now in its third year, the Scots Language Publication Grant was created by the Scots Language Resource Network to support Scots publishers and to encourage Scots writers. It is funded by the Scottish Government and administered by Scottish Book Trust, the national charity changing lives through reading and writing.

This year’s successful awardees include translations of well-loved stories such as Aesop’s Fables by Matthew Fitt and James Robertson, and Lemony Snicket by Thomas Clark. Brian Holton will also reimagine poetry of Li Bai and Du Fu (two of the most renowned poets of Ancient China) to new audiences.

Applications were assessed by a panel with expertise in Scots and publishing, including a representative of the Scots Language Centre, Scottish Book Trust and Waterstones.

The successful titles are:

The Scots Language Publication Grant provides assistance for publishing new work (including translated texts), reprinting existing historical or culturally significant work, and also effective marketing and promotion of existing and new work.

Education Secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

'The Scottish Government is pleased to continue to support the Scots Publication Grant for a third year. We have seen how this funding can develop talent while widening accessibility of a variety of genres, with titles both new and old, to the Scots speaking community. My congratulations to those who have been successful this year.'

Rhona Alcorn, CEO of Dictionaries of the Scots Language and Chair of The Scots Language Resource Network, said:

'The Scots Language Publication Grant plays a hugely important role in supporting Scots as a contemporary literary medium. This year’s winning titles illustrate the breadth of creative work in Scots today and truly include something for everyone.'

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said:

'Scottish Book Trust is pleased to offer Scots Publication Grants to these nine new titles. The diversity in genre and subject matter of the successful awardees is fascinating: from children’s stories to poetry; from classic tales we grew up with, to ancient Chinese poetry. Our thanks to the Scottish Government and the Scots Language Resource Network for making this grant possible.'


Notes to editors:

For all press queries, please contact Keara Donnachie, PR & Marketing Manager: keara.donnachie@scottishbooktrust.com(this will open in a new window) or 07956 773 749

Additional information:

A Series o Scunnersome Events, Book the First: The Boggin Beginnin (Itchy Coo) by Thomas Clark and illustrated by Brett Helquist

The Boggin Beginnin (The Bad Beginning) is the first in the hugely successful 13-book Lemony Snicket series, A Series of Unfortunate Events. The Dickensian parody and cynical tone of the narrator’s voice strike a real chord with many young readers, especially those who suspect ‘books for children’ of patronising them. The books are very dark and very funny, and of course they are already well known in their English editions, which has proved to be an excellent route for encouraging young readers to start reading in Scots.

This high-quality edition with fantastic illustrations by Brett Helquist is a brilliant addition to the Itchy Coo list. With its ironic Dickensian tone, the nature of the story is perfect for translation into Scots, which has a huge vocabulary for the clattie events and scunnersome characters that the book contains.

Itchy Coo said: 'We are hugely delighted to be able to publish the amazing The Boggin Beginnin on the Itchy Coo list of translations. The unsettling macabre tone of the novel is a perfect match for a rich Scots vocabulary, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with this addition.'

Thomas Clark said: 'I’m fair-trickit – a word which here means “absolutely delighted” – that The Boggin Beginnin is being supported into print by the Scots Publication Grant. The opportunity to make this fantastic book available to young people in their ain leid is a real dream come true.'

A Working Class State of Mind (Leamington Books) by Colin Burnett

Written entirely in East coast Scots A Working Class State of Mind, the debut book by Colin Burnett, brings the everyday reality and language of life in Scotland to the surface. Colin's fiction takes themes in the social sciences and animates them in vivid ethnographic portrayals of what it means to be working class in Scotland today.

Delving into the tragic exploits of Aldo as well as his long time suffering best friends Dougie and Craig, the book follows these and other characters as they make their way in a city more divided along class lines than ever before.

Leamington Books said: 'Scots and Doric have always been important to us, especially coming from a generation in which both were discouraged. We continue to work with writers of Scots and this is award is a great acknowledgement of that. We also welcome this award as it allows us as a new company to record an audio version of a book that is proving increasingly popular with the public, as well as compete on a more level basis with other publicly funded titles.'

Colin Burnett said: 'I cannot thank the panel enough for awarding my debut book A Working Class State of Mind the Scots publication grant. I have developed a keen interest in promoting the Scots language through my work ever since I began writing creatively these past few years. Something that I was inspired to do through reading the works of James Kelman and Irvine Welsh. And through my brother Michael Burnett's work, who is a Scottish playwright and who writes in Scots.

This is truly an exciting time for me and my publisher Leamington Books.'

Berries Fae Banes (Tippermuir) by Jim Macintosh

The book is a poetical translation of a book of poetry by Italian poet, scholar and musician Pino Mereu. Pino is the president of the Hamish Henderson folk club di Roma and a contributor to A Hame Wi’ Freedom: Essays on Hamish Henderson and the Scottish Folk Revival (2002). Alongside four volumes of published poetry, Pino has written numerous articles on folk music. His Anzio Pipe Band (2012) has been translated into English by the poet Tom Hubbard, former librarian of the Scottish Poetry Library.

Tippermuir said: 'We are delighted that Scottish Book Trust have once again put their faith in Tippermuir to produce new work in Scots. Berrie Fae Banes is not only new work, it is part of that carrying stream of the cultural contribution of Hamish Henderson.'

Jim Macintosh said: 'Fair chuffed tae hae the honour o owersettin Pino’s fine words intae the Scots Leid. Aiblins noo the precious thrums o freendship between Hamish Henderson and Pino will grace the lugs o mair fowk.'

Hard Roads an Cauld Hairst Winds: Li Bai an Du Fu in Scots (Taproot Press) by Brian Holton

The latest book by the Sarah Maguire Prize winning poet and translator Brian Holton, Hard Roads an Cauld Hairst Winds is a collection of Scots translations of poetry by Li Bai and Du Fu, two of the most renowned poets of Ancient China. By bringing two of the world’s great poets – from the oldest continuous literary tradition in the world – into the library of Scots writing, Brian Holton creates a text as valuable in its own way to the literary tradition as Lorimer’s wonderful New Testament in Scots.

Holton’s skilfully supple verse is composed in a literary Scots inflected by his local Borders dialect, giving rise to a natural phrasing that draws on his intimate knowledge of the Border Ballads. Complemented by a collaboration with Edinburgh-based calligrapher Chi Zhang, these finely wrought translations create a strikingly beautiful book – inclusive of introductory essays on the poets, notes on the texts, and a reflective postscript.

Taproot Press said: 'It’s a real privilege to be awarded a Scots Language Publication Grant, which will allow us to create a beautiful book befitting of Brian’s poetry. With extra calligraphy from the exceptional Chi Zhang, we can now make Hard Roads into a real collector’s item worthy of any bookshelf.'

Laird Graham an the Kelpie (Giglets Education) by Jax McGhee

This is a new addition to the Giglets library – an online literacy resource used by thousands of teachers and pupils to share texts and activities that pupils love to work on in school or at home. Laird Graham an the Kelpie is a translation of a story based on an old Scottish legend about the cruel and miserly Laird Graham of Morphie and how he caught a kelpie (water horse) from the loch and made it build a castle for him.

Awareness of, and interest in, legends about kelpies has increased since the development of the Kelpies in Falkirk. Within Giglets, Scottish legends are well-liked by teachers and pupils in schools across the UK. Almost 2,000 pupils have access to this story in English at the moment, and the Scots translation will allow many pupils to tackle Scots prose in an accessible way.

Giglets Education said: 'We’re delighted to have received this grant support from Scottish Book Trust which will enable us to publish our ninth book in Scots. We hope that this project can serve as a catalyst for more to follow as we grow and develop our library of texts to support children in Scottish classrooms and beyond. Thank you to Scottish Book Trust for making this opportunity available and we look forward to working with them going forward.'

Jax McGhee said: 'I’m thrilled that we have received the Scots Publication Grant from Scottish Book Trust to support the publication of Laird Graham an the Kelpie. It promises to be a colourful and engaging retelling of a Scottish legend. I hope teachers, pupils and parents across Scotland enjoy the story.'

Norlan Lichts (Rymour Books) by Sheena Blackhall, Sheila Templeton and Lesley Benzie

A selection of new poems by three of the most prominent writers from the North-east writing in Scots today. All written in North-east Scots or 'Doric'.

Rymour Books said: 'We have championed the traditional Scots of the North-east through neglected authors, folk song and, in this case, active contemporary authors writing in their native Scots, and are delighted to receive this grant.'

Sheena Blackhall, Sheila Templeton and Lesley Benzie said:

'We are extremely pleased to receive this support which rewards our new work in the Scots of the North-east and hope that our work will encourage others to write in their local tongue.'

Phantom the Ginger Mog (Wee Stoorie Press) by Kirsty Johnson and illustrated by Mandy Sinclair

A series of rhyming, picture story books for children ages 4 to 7, written in Scots. Each book will include glossary of Scots words and phrases. The stories are full of fun, based around season, nature, the supernatural, and are all brought to life by beautiful, vibrant illustrations. We are also producing audio books for this series, incorporating original music composed specifically for each individual book, and aim to create a uniquely Scottish, sound picture, story book. Wee Stoorie Press said: 'To say we are absolutely delighted to receive this grant, is a huge understatement. This grant gives us, Kirsty Johnson and Mandy Sinclair, of Wee Stoorie Pess, the opportunity to offer our work to very important people - bairns.'

The Day It Never Got Dark In Dundee (Rymour Books) by Ian Spring

The work is a collection of short fictions written entirely in Glaswegian Scots. There is humour, but the author also deals with issues of poverty, violence, sectarianism, etc set in the background of working-class Glasgow over the last 50 years.

Rymour Books said: 'We have championed the Scots language and we are delighted to have received a generous grant towards the publication of The Day It Never Got Dark In Dundee, written entirely in Glaswegian Scots.'

Ian Spring said: 'I’m chuffed at receiving a Scots publication grant for my collection of short stories written in Glaswegian. Ya dancer!'

The Itchy Coo Book o Aesop’s Fables in Scots (Itchy Coo) by Matthew Fitt and James Robertson, illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark

The Itchy Coo Book of Aesop’s Fables in Scots is a translation of the Orchard edition, published by Hachette in 2004. Presented in a highly durable, quality production, featuring glowing illustrations from Emma Chichester Clark, and translated from Michael Morpurgo’s lively retellings, these classic fables will now be published in Scots for the first time, translated by a select group of well-known Scottish writers.

One of Itchy Coo’s long-term aims is to embed reading in Scots for pleasure into the reading habits of a large section of the population. Itchy Coo’s foundation was based on the premise that there was a great but neglected demand for quality prose and poetry in Scots for young readers. To help meet this demand, we are building a small Scots library of classic children’s literature that can sit comfortably and permanently on any bookshelf, to be read by children themselves or shared with parents, teachers, librarians and others.

Itchy Coo said: 'We are incredibly delighted to be able to continue publishing classic children’s literature in Scots. Aesop’s Fables are not only highly entertaining but also provide important life lessons, and we are thrilled that we can now add them to the Itchy Coo list.'

Matthew Fitt and James Robertson said: 'Aesop’s fables, ower the centuries translatit fae the original Greek intae hunners o ither leids, belang tae the warld. And noo wi this excitin new translation, they’ll belang tae oor wunnerfu Scots speakin bairns and weans and awbody wi a love o readin great stories in Scots.'

Wheesht (Foggie Toddle Books) by Susi Briggs and illustrated by William Gorman

Wheesht is a picture book by Susi Briggs. It’s a story about a dog who loves to sing but who has been sent outside to the garden by his family who don’t always appreciate the noise. They’ve told him to “Haud yer wheesht” but he has no idea what this means and asks other animals if they know. In the end he works it out for himself!

Foggie Toddle Books said: 'I am absolutely delighted to be receiving the Scots Publication Grant as it enables my new company, Foggie Toddle Books to work with the wonderful Scots writer and storyteller Susi Briggs and talented illustrator William Gorman.'

Susi Briggs said: 'I'm ower the muin tae get an opportunity tae see anither yin o my Scots stories fer weans published. I am looking forrit tae working wi Foggie Toddle Books and seeing the character Shug the Dug come tae life in the talented hands o illustrator Will Gorman. Wheesht was a joy tae scrieve and I'm delichted wi the award.'

Scots Language Resource Network

The Scots Language Publication Grant is administrated by The Scots Language Resource Network, which meets twice a year to discuss the coordination and publication of new and existing resources (online and in print) that support speakers, readers, writers, teachers, learners and students of Scots. It currently includes representatives from the following organisations:

About Scottish Book Trust

Scottish Book Trust is a national charity that believes everyone living in Scotland should have equal access to books. Our work provides opportunities to improve life chances through books and the fundamental skills of reading and writing. Access to books and a love of books bring many important benefits from family bonding and advancing children’s learning, to unlocking creativity, helping employability and improving mental health & well-being. Scottish Book Trust aims to support all communities across Scotland, with particular focus on those who are vulnerable and under-represented.

Our programmes and outreach work include:

In addition to the funding we receive from the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland, we need the constant support of trusts and foundations, corporate sponsors and individual donors.

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Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery.

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