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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Re-booting Tam o'Shanter

This looked such a challenge that I actually came out of retirement and composed my entry yesterday afternoon and had great fun doing it too. One of the great epic poems - Tam o'Shanter by Robbie Burns - is apparently in need of a reboot to bring it up to date. It really is a wonderful poem and gave us not only the hat but the Cutty Sark too. The closing date below says October 1st but I have it on good authority that it has been extended to the end of the year.
Sadly my poem runs to 264 lines (or 44 sextets) so somewhere I have to trim seven stanzas. I believe it is probably the longest poem wot I have wrote.

Tam o’ Shanter was written by our national bard, Robert Burns, way back in 1790. The story of Tam’s journey home from the tavern after a few too many is infamous. But now a new challenge has been set!
The Great Reboot of Tam o’ Shanter challenges you to bring the bard’s poem into the 21st century. Following the structure of the original, you are invited to come up with a new, modern twist on this old classic. The organisers are looking for someone to write a piece, in English or Scots, thinking about what Burn’s would have written if he were around today. An outing to a football match in Barcelona, a blind date to Benidorm, a hen party, a rave at a zombie night-club... it’s up to you!
Have a look at the full details below:

•    The poem should be about a night out and the return home after a wild and unpredicted experience – of whatever kind!
•    It should be written in Scots or English and be the original work of the author, unpublished and not accepted for publication elsewhere.
•     It should not be under consideration in other writing competitions and should not be a translation of another author’s work.
•    The original 'Tam o’ Shanter' runs to 224 lines. Entries should be no longer than that, and particularly short poems are not appropriate: so, no limericks, sonnets or villanelles, please.
•    Any metrical form would be welcome – the ballad stanza, rhyming couplets, iambic pentameters, free verse are all welcome options. We are looking for a narrative poem of substance, insight and wit.
•    The competition is open to anyone over the age of 16.

How to enter
•    All entries are to be made online to: tamoshanterreboot@hjlockhart.co.uk
•    You can make as many entries as you like.
•    Entries will be acknowledged by E mail.
•    There is no fee for entry.

Closing date for entries is: October 1st 2012

Entry implies acceptance of all the rules. Copyright remains with its author, but the sponsor or its nominee will have the unrestricted right to publish any one or more of the entries for the purpose of promotion. The author’s name will always be acknowledged.
The Judges:
Lesley Duncan, Poetry Editor of The Herald; Charles MacLean, Whisky Evangelist; Hugh Lockhart, Trustee of FSFF, David Purdie, editor of The Burns Encyclopaedia; Alan Riach, Professor of Scottish Literature at Glasgow University; Alexander McCall Smith, novelist.

The Prizes
The three best entries will submit to final judgement at an event in the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum beside the Auld Haunted Kirk of Alloway, in Ayrshire, Scotland and prizes will be awarded as below:
1st prize  £500
2nd prize £200
3rd prize  £100
And a further four prizes of £25 each.


  1. Retirement? Say it ain't so!
    This does look like fun. Bet they choose Scots mainly. Did you drop Sauchiehall Street into the mix?

  2. I was just thinking the other day how much I miss the Poetry Bus folks - most of you guys just stopped posting as regularly & it makes me sad.

    I would love to read your poem once you're able to share it (although if you win does that mean I'd have to buy a book or something to read it?).

  3. Hi Kate, Dropped every other Glasgow Street bar Sauchiehall!! No, its not deliberate retiring, just I seem to spend most of my spare time pushing prams or rolling around on the floor getting my hair pulled.
    Hi Dana, see above for my absence from Blogger! No, of course you don't have to buy a book! I'll post it up once its been rejected.