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'Flambeaux', joint first place, Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2011


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COLLECTION NAME: Neil Gunn Writing Competition, 2011 (texts)
CONTRIBUTOR: Highland Libraries
DATE OF ORIGINAL: 2010s
By Donald Mackay

'Flambeaux' was placed joint first in the Adult Poetry section of the Neil Gunn Writing Competition, 2011. It was written by Donald Mackay, Caithness.



The theme for 2011 was 'A wrong turning', taken from Neil Gunn's novel 'The Serpent': "Our river took a wrong turning somewhere! But we haven't forgotten the source."



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


Flambeaux



On the Selembao stalls, cloth wicked in palm oil

made a carnival of fire: planks, two oil drums

on them chikwangu, smokefish, tinned sardines

avocados, mangos, bananas,

bread which had been fresh that morning



whatever anyone could buy and sell, was fine

on such a night after a storm, in such a light.

People grew happy, for rain had relaxed the air

and a flicker of flames shone our skin like oil

making us all, in that most primitive of lights,



singularly beautiful.

How? Total strangers would press my hands

as if we were all muisi-Kongo for tonight

and the thin high music from the boites de nuit

shook everybody's hips,



on every hand, 'Kiambote'. Not at all romantic,

only to me in the sharp lack of an electric light.

It was simply the way things are

when people, even with a mundele

in their middle, practically become themselves.



chikwangu - cassava puddings; muisi-Kongo - Bakongo;



boites de nuit - brothels; 'Kiambote' - ki-Kongo greeting;



mundele - European





Some other items in this collection...



'The Legacy', Highly Commended, Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2011

'The Legacy', Highly Commended, Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2011

'A Wrong Turn', Winner, Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2011

'A Wrong Turn', Winner, Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2011

'Nothing but the Truth', Commended, Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2011

'Nothing but the Truth', Commended, Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2011

'A Wrong Turning', Commended, Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2011

'A Wrong Turning', Commended, Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2011





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