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American poet wins MacDonald of Sleat poetry prize

An American poetess, Deborah Moffat, is the winner of this year’s MacDonald of Sleat poetry prize.  The competition which is run by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig was instituted by Sir Ian MacDonald of Sleat in memory of his daughter, Deborah, who died two years ago.

Deborah Moffatt, who was born in Vermont in the United States, came to Scotland in 1982.  and now lives in Kingsbarns in Fife. Her English poetry is published in several literary magazines including Agenda, Cyphers, Stand agus The Warwick Review.  

She began writing poetry in Gaelic in 2013, after learning the language over a nine year period.  She won the Wigtown Prize in 2015 with the poem, “Lilidh sa’ Mhachair” and in 2016 with the poem, “Clann na Coille”, and her Gaelic poetry has been published in Northwords Now, Causeway/Cabhsair, Southlight, agus Poblachd nam Bàrd.  

A collection of her poems. “Far From Home,” was published by Lapwing, Belfast in 2004, and she is currently working on two new collections, one in English and another in Gaelic.

Mark Wringe, a member of the literary panel judging the competition said: “All the poems were presented to us anonymously, so any of them could have been by a poet new to us.  But the feel and subject of An Seudar ’s an Giuthas (‘The Cedar and the Pine’) impressed us all for its originality and freshness. It has an appealing symmetry and a unity in its contrast.  The basis of the poem in Jewish culture is a welcome novelty in Gaelic writing and yet at the same time it is readily familiar, offering a resonance through a shared heritage.  We hope to hear more from this writer.”

The prizes were awarded by Sir Ian MacDonald at the Clan Donald Centre on Saturday 24 September. Sir Ian MacDonald commented: “’It is good that there has been an increase in the number of poems submitted to the competition this year and it is very exciting that an

Picture shows Deborah Moffat, receiving her prize from Sir Ian MacDonald, Chair of Clan Donald Lands Trust. Also in the picture (L to R) are one of the judges, Mark Wringe, Senior Lecturer at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Professor Boyd Robertson, Principal of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and Jan Wallwork Clarke, CEO of Clan Donald Skye.

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