Christie Williamson spent his formative years on Yell, the second biggest island in Shetland. He studied at the University of Stirling between 1994 and 1999 and has lived in Glasgow since 2002. His poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies across Scotland and have been commended in competitions. In 2008-9 he was one of four mentees in St Mungo’s Mirrorball’s inaugural Clydebuilt mentoring scheme. Arc o Möns, his translations of Federico Garcia Lorca’s poetry into Shetland dialect, was published in 2009 by Hansel Co-operative Press. It was the joint winner of the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award in May 2010. His first full collection of poems, Oo an Feddirs, was published in 2015 by Luath Press. He is Scots poetry editor of Tapsalteerie Press and part of the current team at Tell it Slant Books.
What was it about the aims of The Poets’ Republic that made you submit your work for consideration?
I think poetry has to say something. I’m not averse to work, to perfecting or at least improving form as far as we can manage. Some trends in contemporary poetry can draw us towards a sort of pure aesthetic, where self-referential art for art’s sake can exist almost in a vacuum from the world we’re living in. Whilst I don’t necessarily think there’s anything wrong with that per se, we live today in a world where things are going on which can’t just be ignored. The Poets’ Republic recognises this and I’m honoured to be able to support their endeavour with the odd submission.
Poetry used to be the voice of the people. How can we regenerate people’s understanding of, and enthusiasm for, poetry as a vehicle for social change?
I think we need to get out of the poetry bubble – it’s easy to exist in this alternate reality where poets write for and read to poets. That’s all very nice, and I get a lot from spending time with other poets, but we need to get our hands dirty. People get intimidated by poetry for so many reasons – secondary education being a primary one. In my experience, a lot of people think they don’t like poetry – but once they’re exposed to it find it very rewarding (if it’s properly made). As above, it helps if it says something.
What do you consider to be the most significant social issue in Scotland today?
We live in a more unequal society than we’ve seen in living memory. Our economy is appallingly skewed – there was a great opportunity in 2008 to turn away from the structurally unsound, ecocidal path we found ourselves on and our politicians just plunged everyone deeper into the shit. So now you get a fragmented society where people are driving around in 68 plate Mercs, fully believing the narrative that it’s because they’re hard-working and talented, whilst a horrifyingly vast chunk of the population can’t put food on the table. Its entirely constructed and plenty solutions are available, but the political will to push the brown envelope back and say no thanks just doesn’t exist. It must
What one other poet would you recommend to readers of The Poets’ Republic?
That’s austere. The late, great Alexander Hutchison.
Who should submit to The Poet’s Republic?
I would recommend anyone who writes because they care about the world and people around them, who writes from the heart with courage and sensitivity to send th
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Read, Taxi my weans about, run Tell it Slant Books (pop in!) and dance whenever I get the chance.
eir poems into The Poets’ Republic. In a broader context, the entire late capitalist military industrial complex should submit to The Poets’ Republic.
In what public space or media would you most like your work to appear?
A properly funded and staffed network of libraries, engaging with and catering to the needs of the communities they serve.
What is the best piece of writing advice you have been given so far?
Not to publicly hold or endorse a position I don’t believe.
Where can we find you online?