Book of Deer Doric writing workshop with Jo Gilbert


Work with writer and spoken word artist Jo Gilbert to create your own page or mini Book of Deer in response to writing prompts. In 2021 Jo received an Aberdeen Art Gallery micro-commission award. Past projects and commissions include Look Again Festival, St Anza Poetry Festival, Loud Poets and Ten Feet Tall theatre company.

Following the workshop, at 3.45pm, participants will have the opportunity to share their writing with visitors to the exhibition in Gallery 3 (free, no need to book).


The Book of Deer by Jo Gilbert

Sae Drostán an Columba
cam doon fae Iona, 
vanquishin Nessie on the wye,
sae the stories ging.
Airmed wae a blash o holy wirds,
the twa socht oot 
Bede the Pict, mormer o Buchan,
tae ask for land an set up an Abbey
in the name o Him.
The mormer denies them,
til his bairn taks nae weel, 
nearly dees, sae Bede
pleads healin prayers -
tae save his son, an in return, 
gies Deer awa, named sae bi Columba
fa cursed aa against it.

The land passed fae haun tae haun
fae faither doon tae loon
year on year, in steen an bleed, 
til the end o us aa
protectit till Doomsday caas
and curse aa cheels opposed.
An sae it gings, Scotland’s king 
sweers decrees, witnessed bi
bishops an dignitaries,
sae ony Deer clergy
nivver hid tae lift a finger
except in service tae God
as yon book scrieved,
nae hairm must come tae them nor goods
an curse aabody fa taks nae heed.

Mony years hae turnt noo
lik yalla pages in yon book,
steen crummelt back tae land,
an power ayways changes haunds.
The Book o Deer is comin hame,
an we peer craturs cannae read,
in yon deid language scrieved,
sae auld we cannae say fit bits is
fact, fabrication, or mistranslation,
bit we kin gaze upon its pages, 
lug in close for ancient tongues
still cursin aa against it.


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