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TITLE
'Stac Jenny' (2 of 4)
EXTERNAL ID
AB_NG_STACJENNY_02
DATE OF RECORDING
2008
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Alison Napier
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
1484
KEYWORDS
poem
poems
literature
competition
competitions
writing competition
writing competitions
story
stories
audios
audio recordings
recordings

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'Stac Jenny' was one of the 'Highly Commended' entries in the adult prose section of the Neil Gunn Writing Competition, 2007. It is read here by the author, Alison Napier, 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 prepared a banquet. "Our wedding feast", I announced proudly. I stewed the rabbit that a neighbour had delivered, who had refused to come in, flushed with embarrassment. I boiled it up with onions and with parsley from the garden, I peeled potatoes and tossed them in too, carefree, along with turnip and parsnips and carrots, and earthy shavings and peelings from my vegetables piled up on the chopping board beneath the knife, a hillside of golden bracken in the evening sunlight, a tangle of seaweed ribbons and tangerine twine on the shingle. Our dinner took shape on the range that I had coaxed into life, twists of paper, twigs and kindling, a splash of paraffin, and dry peats.

We sat side by side on the pew and ate in silence. I did not mind. I was contented with the meal and I could hear the gulls and the waves and the creaking of the old walls. Then he went outside and all I could see through the door was the bright orange glow and fade of a star as he inhaled his cigarette. Later, upstairs between thin joyless sheets, a different shocked silence crashed round the room. I listened carefully. I could hear the future. I started to hum a lament that no one could hear but me.

One morning he left. He said nothing and he took nothing. No, that is perhaps not altogether true. He tore down the brilliant blue of the sky and bundled up the breakers on the beach and shoved them roughly into his satchel and I searched in vain for the proud weathers and the winds. He ripped the rippling white sands from the shores and left only the jagged ragged rock pools, and from these he stole the mermaids' purses and the tiny cowry shells, cypraea moneta, the currency for our future.

And some months later I wrapped my possessions in a scarlet blanket and we set off. I knew what they were saying about me as I sang my way up the coast and then back down again. Neither up nor down. And for me some scarlet ribbons. They were saying that I was mad, that my mind was lost and abandoned, that something crucial that was attaching it to who knows what had become unhinged. That I was de-ranged. And yet what possible harm can I do, I thought, because the greatest danger lies in action and be assured there is no action left in this cracked and weary shell. Discard after use. Not for resale. Unfit for human consumption. Consume within three days. There is a ship in Spanish Harlem. Pay no heed, attention all shipping, take no notice, take nothing at all, I felt the knife in my hand, I am a pillar of salt carved to curves by the waves that suck my smooth outlines, gentle teasing licks in a Force Two, crests have a glassy appearance and do not break, and by my Storm Force, untamed heaving crests of waves heavy and shock like, visibility significantly affected. I change shape according to the weather, I am stac Jenny. Approach me if you dare.'

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'Stac Jenny' (2 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)

'Stac Jenny' was one of the 'Highly Commended' entries in the adult prose section of the Neil Gunn Writing Competition, 2007. It is read here by the author, Alison Napier, 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 prepared a banquet. "Our wedding feast", I announced proudly. I stewed the rabbit that a neighbour had delivered, who had refused to come in, flushed with embarrassment. I boiled it up with onions and with parsley from the garden, I peeled potatoes and tossed them in too, carefree, along with turnip and parsnips and carrots, and earthy shavings and peelings from my vegetables piled up on the chopping board beneath the knife, a hillside of golden bracken in the evening sunlight, a tangle of seaweed ribbons and tangerine twine on the shingle. Our dinner took shape on the range that I had coaxed into life, twists of paper, twigs and kindling, a splash of paraffin, and dry peats.<br /> <br /> We sat side by side on the pew and ate in silence. I did not mind. I was contented with the meal and I could hear the gulls and the waves and the creaking of the old walls. Then he went outside and all I could see through the door was the bright orange glow and fade of a star as he inhaled his cigarette. Later, upstairs between thin joyless sheets, a different shocked silence crashed round the room. I listened carefully. I could hear the future. I started to hum a lament that no one could hear but me.<br /> <br /> One morning he left. He said nothing and he took nothing. No, that is perhaps not altogether true. He tore down the brilliant blue of the sky and bundled up the breakers on the beach and shoved them roughly into his satchel and I searched in vain for the proud weathers and the winds. He ripped the rippling white sands from the shores and left only the jagged ragged rock pools, and from these he stole the mermaids' purses and the tiny cowry shells, cypraea moneta, the currency for our future.<br /> <br /> And some months later I wrapped my possessions in a scarlet blanket and we set off. I knew what they were saying about me as I sang my way up the coast and then back down again. Neither up nor down. And for me some scarlet ribbons. They were saying that I was mad, that my mind was lost and abandoned, that something crucial that was attaching it to who knows what had become unhinged. That I was de-ranged. And yet what possible harm can I do, I thought, because the greatest danger lies in action and be assured there is no action left in this cracked and weary shell. Discard after use. Not for resale. Unfit for human consumption. Consume within three days. There is a ship in Spanish Harlem. Pay no heed, attention all shipping, take no notice, take nothing at all, I felt the knife in my hand, I am a pillar of salt carved to curves by the waves that suck my smooth outlines, gentle teasing licks in a Force Two, crests have a glassy appearance and do not break, and by my Storm Force, untamed heaving crests of waves heavy and shock like, visibility significantly affected. I change shape according to the weather, I am stac Jenny. Approach me if you dare.'