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TITLE
'Out West' (1 of 4)
EXTERNAL ID
AB_NG_OUTWEST_01
DATE OF RECORDING
2008
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Anne Morrison
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
1474
KEYWORDS
poem
poems
literature
competition
competitions
writing competition
writing competitions
story
stories
audios
audio recordings
recordings

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'Out West' won first prize in the adult prose section of the Neil Gunn Writing Competition, 2007. It is read here by the author, Anne Morrison, from Lairg.

To celebrate Highland 2007, Scotland's year of Highland Culture, the theme was 'Highland Spaces'. Judges for the adult prose section were Scottish writer Margaret Elphinstone and Ann Yule, Convenor for the Neil Gunn Trust.

The Neil Gunn Writing Competition is organised by library staff from The Highland Council Education, Culture & Sport Service with support from the Neil Gunn Trust. It was first established in 1988.

'I wanted to say a couple of things before I read my story about where a story comes from, and this story in particular, and there were two things - I was trying to get a grip of it and I thought well, really, it started with an image and an experience. The experience was being part of a writers' group, which some of you here may be part of, and that shaped the story. In fact, both Alison and I have been part of a group in Lairg - not the most well known place for thriving writers' groups but it's certainly on the map now. And in this group, both the stories that you - well you hear Alison's, and you'll here mine shortly, but they both started in that group and grew from there.

And in terms of an image - it's a strange process, as you know if you write stories at all, sometimes it's just something very subtle and it stays with you, and it just won't go away. And in this particular case it was an image which, when Chris reads a bit for you, you'll hear it in my story. It comes quite late on but you'll hear the reference and perhaps you'll hear the resonances as well.

But the piece that Chris is going to read is actually - it was my great-grandfather recited this piece to the Napier Commission - don't know if you know anything about the history of crofting in the Highlands but the Napier Commission undertook an investigation into the lives of crofters in the late 1800s and went round interviewing different crofters all over the Highlands. And my great-grandfather was in Harris and he spoke to the Commission in Tarbert - I think it was in Tarbert Church actually - and he spoke very eloquently. At that time he was a man in his seventies and he was married to a woman who was forty years younger than him - his seond wife - they had eight children - and they had a major struggle on their hands to survive, actually. And I think, if I just let Chris read this bit.

'Then the seaware rights that the North Harris people had at that time were taken from them and given to the Scalpay people, when it was crofted out. The patches of land we have in North Harris are only peat and will not yield any crop unless they are manured with seaware year by year so that we are obliged to go for the seaware to the isle of Skye, and to the Lewis. I go in the spring tides to the islae of Skye for seaware in a small boat of twenty feet keel. When we load that boat with seaware in Skye I am filled with fear, and hope; the hope of reaching the shore if the weather holds, the fear of being drowned, when it breaks. Whenever I can land safely with cargo I fell as pleased as other people would who might come laden with a cargo of gold; not because of the cargo and the seaware but because I have saved my life. When I arrive home at dusk probably I may commence unloading the boat and putting the seaware up upon the land without waiting for shifting my clothes or even taking a particle of food. There is no other way for it, and live.'

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'Out West' (1 of 4)

2000s

poem; poems; literature; competition; competitions; writing competition; writing competitions; story; stories; audios; audio recordings; recordings

Am Baile

Neil Gunn Writing Competition (audios)

'Out West' won first prize in the adult prose section of the Neil Gunn Writing Competition, 2007. It is read here by the author, Anne Morrison, from Lairg.<br /> <br /> To celebrate Highland 2007, Scotland's year of Highland Culture, the theme was 'Highland Spaces'. Judges for the adult prose section were Scottish writer Margaret Elphinstone and Ann Yule, Convenor for the Neil Gunn Trust.<br /> <br /> The Neil Gunn Writing Competition is organised by library staff from The Highland Council Education, Culture & Sport Service with support from the Neil Gunn Trust. It was first established in 1988.<br /> <br /> 'I wanted to say a couple of things before I read my story about where a story comes from, and this story in particular, and there were two things - I was trying to get a grip of it and I thought well, really, it started with an image and an experience. The experience was being part of a writers' group, which some of you here may be part of, and that shaped the story. In fact, both Alison and I have been part of a group in Lairg - not the most well known place for thriving writers' groups but it's certainly on the map now. And in this group, both the stories that you - well you hear Alison's, and you'll here mine shortly, but they both started in that group and grew from there.<br /> <br /> And in terms of an image - it's a strange process, as you know if you write stories at all, sometimes it's just something very subtle and it stays with you, and it just won't go away. And in this particular case it was an image which, when Chris reads a bit for you, you'll hear it in my story. It comes quite late on but you'll hear the reference and perhaps you'll hear the resonances as well.<br /> <br /> But the piece that Chris is going to read is actually - it was my great-grandfather recited this piece to the Napier Commission - don't know if you know anything about the history of crofting in the Highlands but the Napier Commission undertook an investigation into the lives of crofters in the late 1800s and went round interviewing different crofters all over the Highlands. And my great-grandfather was in Harris and he spoke to the Commission in Tarbert - I think it was in Tarbert Church actually - and he spoke very eloquently. At that time he was a man in his seventies and he was married to a woman who was forty years younger than him - his seond wife - they had eight children - and they had a major struggle on their hands to survive, actually. And I think, if I just let Chris read this bit. <br /> <br /> 'Then the seaware rights that the North Harris people had at that time were taken from them and given to the Scalpay people, when it was crofted out. The patches of land we have in North Harris are only peat and will not yield any crop unless they are manured with seaware year by year so that we are obliged to go for the seaware to the isle of Skye, and to the Lewis. I go in the spring tides to the islae of Skye for seaware in a small boat of twenty feet keel. When we load that boat with seaware in Skye I am filled with fear, and hope; the hope of reaching the shore if the weather holds, the fear of being drowned, when it breaks. Whenever I can land safely with cargo I fell as pleased as other people would who might come laden with a cargo of gold; not because of the cargo and the seaware but because I have saved my life. When I arrive home at dusk probably I may commence unloading the boat and putting the seaware up upon the land without waiting for shifting my clothes or even taking a particle of food. There is no other way for it, and live.'