In February 2023, I was commissioned by the Scottish Poetry Library to write/make a poem. This was definitely out of my comfort zone as I have never shared any of my poems.
However, I was walking on our local raised bog, Flanders Moss with my Mum, and she was talking about how the bog is so important for storing carbon, and how over the centuries this amazing and precious habitat has been damaged by draining it for agriculture. So I began to write ‘Bogaidh’, which means soak or immerse and I thought this worked well, as it also relates to language and what I was trying to do with my own languages, blending Gaelic and BSL sign language to tell a story.
The poem is a call for help to restore and regenerate our lands, as well as the ‘cultivation of culture’ that relates to the land. There are also metaphorical references to the body as our own vulnerable landscape. I developed this as a signed poem, exploring the technical considerations of BSL poetry and the choreographic opportunities of signing the themes of this piece and I am very grateful to Craig McCulloch for translating into BSL and passing these choreographed signing patterns on to me – it’s a bit like the passing of oral traditions but with our hands and faces.
Despite the serious theme, there are also elements of humour and I hope the poem is an invitation to reduce communication barriers and join together with humour to use our culture and traditions to frame our experiences and support us in our endeavours. My Gaelic and BSL ‘filmpoem’ Bogaidh is available to watch and read about here: