2010, according to the Orkney Heritage Society, is to be the year of Orkney Dialect. This celebration of local voices kicked off with a poetry reading at the Lynnfield hotel and continues with an Orkney Dialect Poetry Competition.
Entry forms for the competition can be picked up in the archive and you can read about it here. Whilst in the archive, prospective poets may want to gain inspiration from the many books of Orkney literature and Orcadian dictionaries in the Orkney Room or listen to recordings of poets such as Robert Rendall reading their dialect poems. You can also read the various writings we hold that discuss the use of dialect.
Robert Rendall himself believed that the 'kailyard' could be escaped if dialect was used in a contemporary and non-sentimental manner. He was also wary of 'Lallans', a 'synthetic Scots' blend of various types of words; archaic, contemporary, lowlands, North East which he regarded as a type of Scottish Esperanto i.e. self-concious and unnatural. He felt that the magic of dialect derived from its localness.
Another great Orcadian poet, Edwin Muir, thought that to make their mark and to become 'complete' as authors then Scottish poets had to write their work in English.
The use of dialect is still going strong, however, see Morag MacInnes' 2008 poetry sequence on Orcadian sailor Isobel Gunn, 'Alias Isobel', for example.
There will also be a related exhibit of relevant documents in the archive from the start of next week.
Information taken from:
An Island Shore, selected writings of Robert Rendall edited by Neil Dickson
Edwin Muir - Poet, Critic and Novelist by Marjory McCulloch
D27/2/7 - Robert Rendall papers - 'Notes on the Use of Dialect.'