During the lockdown, we’re missing the chance to get out and do more poetry workshops with Scottish primary schools, which – as we discussed in a previous blog post – has been one of the most enjoyable parts of our work this year. In North Lanarkshire, one of the things we discussed with P5-7 classes was the way in which poets liked to write about the place they lived in: we thought about Janet Hamilton’s ‘Oor Location’ and how she used Scots, and about James Stewart’s celebration of Coatbridge and its industries, ‘The Iron Village.’
Anyone familiar with poetry collections by Victorian workers will know that they invariably include multiple poems about the author’s favourite local places. Often these are pastoral poems, celebrating local beauty spots – glens, rivers, hills and so on. But they also celebrate town locations: parks, shops, favourite hotels or pubs. Poets knew that local newspapers were likely to publish this very ‘local’ poetry, and readers clearly enjoyed poems about places they knew. These are poems about pride in your chosen home, and about celebrating its good qualities. In heavily industrialised areas like North Lanarkshire, which were more likely to be seen as undesirable places to live in the mid-late Victorian period, these poems took on a special resonance and importance.
Several North Lanarkshire primary schools followed up on our session by doing their own creative work on poetry about place. Below are some fantastic poems shared by teachers and P5a students at Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral Primary, Motherwell, who chose to write on three of their favourite local places: Duchess Park, the Aquatec Leisure Centre, and M&D’s amusement park. We love how these build on the traditions we’ve been researching, and how many of the students are thinking about Scots as well as English. Hopefully they will be able to visit their favourite places again soon, and in the meantime, enjoy these memories. And well done to all the contributors here!