r2vyln3rdioj14u-rld0ska where mountains meet the sea: February 2017

migration and the mither tongue

“Scots is a language – some people dispute that. Orcadian is a branch of Scots. All these dialects from Shetland to the Borders have variants of Scots. Though in Orkney we have words based on Orkney Norse – so we use these words to intersperse with Scots terms so our dialect is a mixture of Scots mixed with these lexical items form Orkney Norn. You speak a west side Scots – I have my Orcadian way of speaking – they’re not dissimilar but there are variants all the way through.”  -  Orkney Dialect with Tom Rendell
Scapa Flow Orkney Dialect Project
Voices Aroond the Flow

Harvest Gypsies

In October we will come
A hundred and fifty thousand strong
When the picking's over we'll be gone
They call us the harvest gypsies

We only came because we must
We were driven here by dust
And they won't even look at us
We're only harvest gypsies

There's apricots in Santa Clare
And Kern County they have apples there
And the grapes they're growing everywhere
For the harvest gypsies


In a walnut grove I met a man
Who lost a child before San Fran
We're strangers they don't understand
We are the harvest gypsies

The hardest that it's ever been
I sold my blankets for gasoline
It's only hunger I have seen
Now I'm a harvest gypsy

The gondolas the railway lines
Filled with men when it is time
Drawn by the orange and the lime
All the harvest gypsies

They hate it when their taxes rise
The squatter camps that they despise
Without us they would rot and die
Without the harvest gypsies

The Holbrooks we were farming men
 I dream one day we will again
To miss the soil's a curious pain
When you're a harvest gypsy

Kris Drever


Sullom Voe

And here lies
the slow black pulse
of the islands,
which grew roads
arterial, capillaries
across the map;
a slick spill of dark
spinal fluid right
down the middle.

In my memory
it is lit
as a magic lantern,
all chatoyant glitter
of another, flickering world;
city of the night
tucked in a far corner
of my north -
a hologram,
a mirknin heart.

Roseanne Watt

mirkinin: darkening

Five fish

This one seeme d to be happy on gravel.
Sipping flies down to
her very own stones.

One day she fell with the current
all the way to the wide sea.

And then she’s hunting shrimps and prawns,
all that pink going deep inside.
The muscle tight but slim as a rocket,
the shine broken with beads of black.

Till she and her mates have turned around
thirsty for remembered water
that’s just around the
next narrowing

so she swims until
she bruises her belly.

This one plays the wate r like wine.
The high fin is long and a sail
so it swims in a spiral.
As a cork is unturned
from the cloudy neck
of a thick bottle.

The silver of salt
in fresh water.

The one that livens up when
the slowing chill is on the river.

This dart is certain and sharp
but has fifteen spines
on its back.

You can see through shape
to see the hairy bones
bristle inside.

This one hovers
striped by reeds
– a shark in a lake.

He’s made of marble
and gorgonzola.
Heavy as butter.

Pivots like a stuntbike
and rhymes with one too.

This back can show a kite
filling, pulling
round quiet water.

A tiger in olive and green
accelerating to
a flash of lipstick red.

1 Salmon
2 Grayling
3 15-spined stickleback
4 Pike
5 Perch

Ian Stephen, from The Thing that Mattered Most: Scottish poems for children (Julie Johnstone, ed)

the nefarious trade

"...it doesn't do us any good to compare evils. Because it is usually used then to ignore one evil. And I think each evil should be addressed separately, and the consequences of that evil...

One of the differences is that the evil which we are talking about here was legal. And it's another lesson for us. We must not legalise evil because then it allows bad people to say it's ok...

I feel that good people should recognise - no matter who they are - a wrong when it's there. You don't need the victim to tell you that it's wrong. Because if the victim is voiceless, then you'll do nothing....

...to me if there's a lesson, it's not about what other people make us do. It's what we ourselves feel is right and should be done."

- Prof Geoff Palmer OBE

While Scotland likes to promote its role in the abolition of slavery, the uncomfortable truth that Scots were also involved in the earlier exploitation of the practice has been somewhat erased from our history books. What was the real role of Scots in the slave trade and what was the legacy? 
Professor Tom Devine's presentation on Recovering Scotland’s Slavery Past: The Caribbean Connection followed by a collaborative discussion with:

Louise Welsh, author and collaborator on The Empire Café 2014 Commonwealth Games Project on Scotland’s involvement with the North Atlantic Slave Trade

Professor Geoff Palmer OBE, grain scientist, human rights activist, and author of The Enlightenment Abolished: Citizens of Britishness’

Dr Stephen Mullen, historian and collaborator on Runaway Slaves in Britain: bondage, freedom and race in the eighteenth century

Slaves and Highlanders
a real piece of the Highlands' heritage

'Send Back the Money!' The Free Church and American Slavery
Frederick Douglass's Anti-Slavery Speeches in Scotland and the Emergence of African-American Internationalism

Missing Faces
The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry - Jamaica

the face of slavery here today
Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act (Scotland) 2015