Jim Mainland

Jim Mainland

Jim Mainland is a graduate of Aberdeen University and until his recent retirement was Principal Teacher of English at Brae High School, Shetland.

Near-Neebours
Friday, 10 December 2021 10:34

Near-Neebours

Published in Poetry

Near-Neebours

by Jim Mainland

See yun whit’s-is-name,
Jacob Rees Morgue?
Weel, him.
Wha does he pit dee a mind o?
Lang face, sleekit doon hair?
Stick a toothbrush tache on da upper lip…
See it noo?
A stretched oot version?

An his pal, Jobbo –
tak awaa da hair
an he’s da spittin image
o da idder fellow.
Kinda roond an bombastic,
aye makkin an erse o himsel?
An aye keen ta dismantle
wir ‘democratic structures’?

It’s no sae far-fetched, believe me.

Dey aa thowt ta begin wi da first twa
wis joost a pair o hermless fules.

Whit?
Friday, 18 June 2021 10:36

Whit?

Published in Poetry

Whit?

by Jim Mainland

Na, na, na, na, na, hing on a meenit!

Du’s sayin if du gies dem lots a money
dey gie dee a lucrative contract
or a plum job?

Or if du’s related ta da boss
he maks dee Loard so-and-so
o somethin or idder?

An den pits dee in da, whit’s it caa’d,
‘Hoose of Loards’?

Awey du goes!

Whaar du gits tree hunder an twunty-tree
pound a day joost fir turnin up?

An du doesna hae ta stick aroond,
du can joost sign in den geeng hame
but still collect the penga?

Or joost geeng in an neeb aff trow it aa?
An cleym transport and travel expenses forbye?

Du’s takkin da piss!

But, I suppose, it’s good ta see da owlder fokk
bein treated wi respect.
Kinda progressive, you could say.

I bet da health an care wirkers git similar?

Whit’s du tellin me?

If du’s a care wirker an haes ta do a nicht-shift,
du canna even git da meenimum wage if du happens
ta sleep at ony point trow it?

Whit?

An foo much is yun meenimum wage?

Foo much?

Almarks: Radical Poetry from Shetland
Saturday, 09 May 2020 12:28

Almarks: Radical Poetry from Shetland

Published in Poetry

Jim Mainland introduces a new anthology of radical poetry from Culture Matters

What is radical poetry? And can it change anything?

The poems in ‘Almarks’ are radical in different ways. Some are explicitly political in content, while others are more indirectly observational and personal. Some are radical in style and approach, such as in their use of Shetland dialect.

They all strike an attitude, ignoring and breaking boundaries, and so are like almarks – the Shetland word for sheep that jump over or break through fences and walls. They are thrawn, awkward, headstrong and independent.

The poets in ‘Almarks’ certainly hope their poems can help change people. Through enjoyably deploying their literary skill with lyricism, cogent argument, subtle humour, striking imagery and appropriate formal inventiveness, they hope these poems will raise our consciousness, deepen our solidarity, make us think and question the world around us – and change it for the better.  

In these strange and uncertain times, the need for these radical, committed voices is greater than ever.

Almarks: An Anthology of Radical Poetry from Shetland, edited by Jim Mainland and Mark Ryan Smith, 64 pps. ISBN: 978-1-912710-20-1

Price: £8 plus £3 p. and p.

Almarks
Thursday, 30 April 2020 10:17

Almarks

Published in Books

Almarks: an Anthology of Radical Poetry from Shetland

edited by Jim Mainland and Mark Ryan Smith, with images by Michael Peterson

ISBN: 978-1-912710-20-1

What is radical poetry? And can it change anything?

The poems in ‘Almarks’ are radical in different ways. Some are explicitly political in content, while others are more indirectly observational and personal. Some are radical in style and approach, such as in their use of Shetland dialect.

They all strike an attitude, ignoring and breaking boundaries, and so are like almarks – the Shetland word for sheep that jump over or break through fences and walls. They are thrawn, awkward, headstrong and independent.

The poets here certainly hope their poems can help change people. Through enjoyably deploying their literary skill with lyricism, cogent argument, subtle humour, striking imagery and appropriate formal inventiveness, they hope these poems will raise our consciousness, deepen our solidarity, make us think and question the world around us – and change it for the better.  

In these strange and uncertain times, the need for these radical, committed voices is greater than ever.

Almarks, An Anthology of Radical Poetry from Shetland, edited by Jim Mainland and Mark Ryan Smith, 64 pps. ISBN: 978-1-912710-20-1

Price: £8 plus £3 p. and p.

The Voices
Friday, 19 April 2019 08:16

The Voices

The Voices

by Jim Mainland, with images by Peter Long

The voices arrived every morning.

In fact, I often seemed to wake to their jibber-jabber. They weren’t the voices of anyone I knew, despite the intimacy they assumed. They weren’t people who would normally have anything to do with the likes of me.

The way I heard it, there were about four or five of them, in rotation. There was one male voice which harrumphed the whole way through. Harrumphed. I can’t think of any other way to put it. He was very self-important. They all were in their different ways, but him especially. He liked inviting other voices into the discussion and then interrupting them. Sometimes they didn’t get a chance to say much. Occasionally, though, there were people that he did seem to approve of because he would let them talk to their heart’s content and even chuckle along with them.

jm new scan 300 broadcaster

Pretty soon his voice became intolerable to me.

Then there was a posh-sounding woman’s voice. Well, there were two, actually, but one wasn’t quite so posh. They both sounded very similar, though, and sometimes I had difficulty deciding which one of them was talking at me. There was also a man who was quite posh. This voice spoke in blandishments. The other voice – also belonging to a man – was very chirpy and bumptious. He was very confident in what he spouted every time he opened his mouth. As if that made it alright.

These voices all sounded very knowledgeable about the world and well furnished with opinions. They were always well pleased with themselves. I got the impression they didn’t have to take things too seriously because whatever they had decided to talk about wasn’t likely to have much effect on them personally. It was all a bit of a laugh. If you got too serious about things, well, that was a bit off, really. However, there was one emotion they very much approved of, but it wasn’t available to everyone, just a select few. This was the emotion which was intrinsic in the act of one being ‘moved’ by something. There seemed to be an unspoken consensus as to what merited this accolade. If something was deemed to be ‘moving’ then it was highly acceptable and much sought-after, but not discernible by the multitude.

I soon got the impression that they presumed that I automatically shared their view of the world.

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It was very difficult to ignore these voices. I could only train myself to nullify them. I noticed that if I listened closely, then what they were saying was utterly vacuous. They simply repeated the same things, in tired and unimaginative language, in worn-out tropes and with wearying platitudes. If they accidentally hit upon a concept that was new to them, they were flummoxed. So they made sure they never did. Anything that existed of outside their own narrow understanding of the world, as it had been handed down to them, was treated with mockery – a defence mechanism, I suspected, which was employed to cover their own bafflement. Frequently they changed topic after every few minutes, as if suffering from some kind of hyperactive affliction. No attempt was ever made to respond in any depth to anything. Perhaps they feared that I would no longer listen to them if they didn’t keep skipping from one superficiality to the next, or maybe the voices worried that if they dwelt too long on anything it might expose their ignorance.

Yet even when I managed to stop hearing them I kept hearing them in a way because at other times it was terribly easy to tune into the same kind of things being said again and again in slightly different but eerily similar voices.

And so it happened that I found myself pitying their brittle egos. Their forced smiles. Their ersatz bonhomie. Those awkward times when they tried to ‘get down with the kids’.                                                                                                                                          

And I was suddenly suffused with despair, realising that I could never help these plaintive, disembodied voices, these hopeless, hapless burblings of a decaying class trapped in some endless theatre of the absurd of their own making.

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