Poetry to the People - The Callum Macdonald Memorial Award

Poetry in pamphlet form has become a cutting edge of creativity in Scottish poetry.

Article by Leo Wood | 15 Jun 2006
Getting published as a writer of fiction is tough; getting published as a poet is tougher and making money from it is virtually impossible. This is why the medium of pamphlet poetry is becoming more and more popular and increasingly important to the world of poetry. Pamphlets are cheap and easy to produce, so aspiring poets can get their work out there without the backing of a major publisher, or any publisher at all.

Established only five years ago, the 2006 Callum Macdonald Memorial Award (CMMA) is the most sought-after prize for pamphlet poetry in Scotland. The awards ceremony was held in the National Library of Scotland on Monday 15th May, where the 6 shortlisted pamphlets (of over 40 entries) were on display. As well as honouring poetic talent, the award also encourages the preservation of poetry pamphlets. All the entries are taken into the NLS collection. The Library holds over 200 contemporary Scottish poetry pamphlets for perusal.

The 2006 winning pamphlet was the self-published 'North Uist Sea Poems' by Pauline Prior-Pitt - observations of the sea written over the months leading up to a violent storm that occurred on the island on January 11th 2005. This pamphlet was hand made using materials that visually enriched the sea-imagery. The strong visual element of poetry pamphlets is a distinct feature of the medium and many of the entries also used images and photos within the pamphlet to accompany the poems. The low production cost of a pamphlet allows plenty of opportunity to experiment with different styles of presentation.

"The freedom and potential of the pamphlet for poets is opening up the field in exciting new ways, and I truly believe that poetry in pamphlet form has become a cutting edge of creativity in Scottish poetry," says one of the CMMA judges. Why not give it a try yourself?
For any budding poets there is a website dedicated to Scottish pamphlet poetry with information on poets, publishers and events. http://www.scottish-pamphlet-poetry.com