Doric poetry by an Aberdeen writer is set to be taught in primary schools across the country.
Shane Strachan has written two new poems which are part of a collection called “Dinna Mak Me Laugh”, and will be used by teachers to get kids familiar with reading and writing in Scots.
The collection is available on the Scots in Schools website, a new free Scots language resource for pupils, teachers and parents.
Shane, who is originally from Fraserburgh, is one of six Scots writers to feature in the new poetry collection and the only one to be writing specifically in Doric.
‘I just thought I spoke Broch’
He is keen for north-east kids to recognise and be proud of their native Scots dialect.
“When I was younger I thought I just spoke Broch,” he said.
“Then I realised ‘actually this is Doric’, and it wasn’t until much later I learned it was a dialect of Scots.
“I didn’t know that until I went to university, because at school I just got told not to speak it and that was the end of the conversation.
“At home, it was just what we spoke and no one questioned it, so I never joined up the dots that it was all one language.”
Things are slowly changing however and more knowledge about the Scots language and its local dialects is becoming available.
Online resource to teach children Scots
Scots in Schools is part of this. The online resource is funded by the Scottish Government and teachers across the country are using it to teach children from nursery right through to the end of secondary school.
Far from the traditional work of Burns, Mr Strachan’s two new poems are short and silly, designed to keep younger children entertained while they learn.
One is called The Clype and tells the short story of a young loon telling tales on all his friends.
“Clype is my favourite Scots word,” said Mr Strachan, “and I was a wee clype at school too when I was a kid.
“I was also quite badly behaved though, so I was living this double life of going around playing chickenelly and budding windows but also telling on anyone else who did it.”
Strachan’s other featured poem is Fash, which describes the life of a fisherman who disna fash himsel when he’s busy with life at sea.
These are just two of the 20 or so poems in the new collection, which have all been illustrated by Pitlochry-based children’s illustrator Dylan Gibson.
This is one of a couple of new Doric poems I wrote for primary-aged bairns which are now up on the Scots in Schools website as part of “Dinnae Mak Me Laugh”, edited by Matthew Fitt and illustrated by Dylan Gibson #Doric #Scotshttps://t.co/BC9U8yVwP4 pic.twitter.com/GIdvxaaDXR
— Shane Strachan (@Shane_Strachan) April 20, 2021
“The pictures really help to explain the Scots to someone who doesn’t know the language,” Mr Strachan said.
“And it’s really great to have such high-quality drawings.
“A lot of the time in the past Scots publications were really just knocked up together with bad graphics and fonts, so it’s great to see these high-quality publications.”
Bid to change view of Scots
The Scots in Schools site is trying to change the impression of Scots being stuffy and old fashioned by using talented illustrators and graphic novelists to bring the stories to life for 21st-century kids.
There are also resources available for older teens, including a short story Mr Strachan contributed about a teenage boy living through the first coronavirus lockdown.
The Evening Express has also produced work looking at the importance of Scots language, including a quiz to test your own knowledge of the language.
“I think it’s important to show that Doric can be used for issues which affect us now and in the future,” he said, “and to keep making sure that new and original content is produced.”