Scottish Poem success for Dr Heather Yeung

Published on 19 August 2021

Song of the Sevens, by Dr Heather Yeung, has been chosen as a Scottish Poem of the Year 2020

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Congratulations to Dr Heather Yeung for her poem 'Song of the Sevens' being chosen as a Best Scottish Poem 2020.

Best Scottish Poems is an online publication, consisting of 20 poems chosen by a different editor each year, with comments by the editor and poets. It provides a personal overview of a year of Scottish poetry.

Heather describes Song of the Sevens as:

"A poem for two voices from a sequence for multiple voices (Potsherds), which explores the oracular in the archaeological and cosmological imaginaries, and tries to test gaps and bridges in understanding and gaps and bridges between resonant objects. This poem occurs a mid-point between two different festivals from the seventh and eighth months of the Chinese lunisolar calendar, and is haunted by an infamous lyric by the Song dynasty poet Qin Guan about a legend of the Milky Way. It places the voices from this and other legends and woman-made objects in a counterpoint with a series of questions about the cosmos. The poem ends with the final words from Qin’s lyric, the first, a dawning, the second, a mirkening, which repeat or echo each other."

In response to being chosen for this accolade Heather advised:

“I'm often in touch with the wonderful folk at the Scottish Poetry Library, but this letter and the subsequent e-mail exchange was extra special, and very unexpected!

Janette Ayachi (the poet and writer who selected Best Scottish Poems this year) is a tremendous voice, whose work I adore, so it was a double blessing to have 'Song of the Sevens' selected in this round of Best Scottish Poems.

After my initial reaction of 'oh!', my reaction was 'hmm', because 'song of the sevens' is a poem from a long suite for multiple voices, and I've always performed it with other poets or artists taking variations of the voices. Because all Best Scottish Poets poets are asked to record their work, I had to think quite hard about how to best go about this. Thankfully I found exceptional collaborators in the brilliant duo of performance artist Johanna Linsley and composer Jan Mertens.

I adore the track we made, and that's absolutely down to their interpretations and work with the raw material of the poem, and a little help from the seagulls of Dundee in the background.”

The sound recording of the poem, a joint performance with Johanna Linsley, with composition by Jan Mertens can be read and listened to on the Scottish Poetry Library

Heather also made an appearance on the BBC programme 'In Search of Sir Walter Scott', which aired on 10 August, and is available to view on iPlayer


Story category Awards and accolades