Scotland’s toilet poetry prize in Shetland return

Shetland-based poet Jen Hadfield, the founder of Bards in the Bog. Picture: PA
Shetland-based poet Jen Hadfield, the founder of Bards in the Bog. Picture: PA
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SCOTLAND’S most bizarre poetry contest is set to return to the toilets of Shetland, it was announced today.

Shetland Library is launching a new round of the popular Bards in the Bog poetry competition this week to flush out the most promising up-and-coming poets in the community.

The winning entries will be displayed in the public loos of the Northern Isle.

A spokeswoman for the library service explained: “This year’s competition is being launched in partnership with Shetland Forwirds and Living Lerwick.The poetry will be in Shetland dialect to help celebrate the 2014 ‘Year of Dialect.’

“As part of Living Lerwick’s Winter Festival, the poems will be displayed in shop windows on Commercial Street in January, as well as in their usual place on toilet doors throughout the isles.”

The first “Bard in the Bog” contest was the brainchild of Jen Hadfield, a Shetland-based poet and a former winner of the prestigious TS Eliot prize for poetry.

The spokeswoman said: “When first launched in 2009 during Jen Hadfield’s poetry partnership with the Library, Bards in the Bog attracted international attention. Since then there have been six rounds of the competition, with entrants and winning Bards coming from Shetland and much further afield. A book of the poems was published by Shetland Library in 2011, and raised over £1,200 for the charity WaterAid.”

Karen Fraser, the library manager, said: “We plan to support the Year of Dialect in various ways, and this seemed a very appropriate way to start. We know dialect writing s strong among young people from the quality of entries to our annual Young Writer competition, so we hope to get poems from all ages.”

She continued: “Part of the Library’s job is to encourage enjoyment of poetry, promote local culture and dialect and reach out to people who might not otherwise visit the Library - we find Bards is an excellent way to do all this.”

Shetland Forwirds was set up to foster and promote the use of written and spoken Shetland dialect and celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2014.

The spokeswoman said: “Poems should be no more than 14 lines in length, be in Shetland dialect or incorporate dialect, and be original and unpublished. The closing date for submissions is14 December.”