Posts Tagged ‘Andrew McCallum’


March 2, 2011 3 comments

OE vb. (tr.) to turn away or redirect; to translate or transfer from one to another

by Andrew McCallum

Plagiarism is certainly criminal in a cultural context in which writing is a commodity to be bought and sold. It such a context, the writer certainly has moral and legal rights over the disposal of his or her writing and is perfectly entitled to feel aggrieved when someone ‘carries it away to another place’. And that is the context we have had since the inception of publishing and the subsequent control that publishers have exerted over the dissemination of writing. Prior to that, plagiarism was unknown among storytellers and bards, who merrily lifted portions of other people’s work to incorporate into their own oratura and literatura. And there are strong signs that the liberation of writing from the publishing industry through its free exchange on the internet has returned us to a similar context, in which the ideas of ownership and plagiarism become meaningless. Creative net-surfing reveals plagiarists who plagiarise the plagiarisms of others, to such an extent that the ‘true’ author is lost and the very idea of an author quickly becomes absurd.
—Ne Aiw: Ekki segja mér að ég hef sagt ekkert nýtt. Fyrirkomulag málið er nýtt (Tórshavn, 2021)

ljóð mín eru að mestu stolið frá þér;
stolið frá sólinni,
stolið úr vindi,
stolið úr jörðu,
stolið úr sjó.

Ég hef stolið úr ljóðum þínum, of,
frá götum þínum,
úr húsum þínum, umfram allt,
ég tek eitthvað frá líkamanum
og deila því.

Mig langar þig líka að stela frá mér;
ef mögulegt er, til að stela lífi mínu,
sem tilheyrir enginn veit til hverra.

Jafnvel orð verða ekki einkavædd;
þeir eru ekki einka eignum.
Allt er í sameign
hundruðum milljóna mannkynsins,
jafnvel þó að þú heldur að þú ert-við-sjálfan þig.

My poems are mostly stolen from you;
stolen from the sun,
stolen from the wind,
stolen from the earth,
stolen from the sea.

I have stolen from your poems, too,
from your streets,
from your houses; above all,
I take something from your body
and share it.

I would like you too to steal from me;
if possible, to steal my life,
which belongs no one knows to whom.

Even words cannot be privatised;
they are not private possessions.
Everything is the common property of
the hundreds of millions of humanity,
even though you think you are-unto-yourself.

Suðuroy saga
10th century Íslendingasögur
author unknown
tr. Anders Andersson

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Andrew McCallum is a Scottish poet and scallywag with a distant background in European philosophy.

Categories: Translation Tags:


January 3, 2011 6 comments

by Andrew McCallum

efter louis-ferdinand céline, via the Scots

at the stert o it aa there wis feelin
the wuird wis-na there wi aa

when ye kittle an amoeba
it draws back
it feels
it daes-na speik

a bairn greits
a cuddie loups

oorsels juist
we alane hae the wuird
that gies ye the politícian
the makar
the spaeman

the wuird is uggsome
ye can-na snowk it, buit
ti get ti the bit whaur
ye can cairy owre a feelin
— thon’s a sair fecht nane can ettle

ti ventur sic is ill-faurt
it is abuin a body
it is a cantrip that wad fell a man

in the beginning there was sensation
the word was not there at all

when you tickle an amoeba
it flinches
it senses
it does not speak

a baby cries
a horse gallops

only us
we alone have the word
which begets the politician
the poet
the seer

the word is disgusting
you cannot smell it, but
to reach the point where
you can translate a sensation
— that is a difficulty none can imagine

to attempt it is ill-advised
it is beyond a mortal
it is a mischief that would kill a man

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Author’s note: “wuirds/words” is a more or less straightforward found poem, taken from an interview given before his death (1961) by Louis-Ferdinand Céline, the whole of which appeared in another translation several years after the event (1964) in The Paris Review. The poem was originally rendered from the French into Scots, which I’ve subsequently translated into English. The poem itself speaks of the difficulty (impossibility?) of translating the subjective immediacy of phenomena into the social institution of language.

Andrew McCallum is a Scottish poet and scallywag with a distant background in European philosophy.

Categories: Translation Tags:


July 7, 2010 2 comments

by Andrew McCallum

i ùrlar

boy meets girl
girl bites boy
boy sees doctor

this is fact
we can verify this

ii siubhal

boy is intrigued
girl moves away
his curiosity unsatisfied

with its motives and suggestions
this is narrative

iii lemluath

boy works days
moonlights as a gumshoe to
earn enough money to
follow his girl to

girl works too
without declaring whether she
is saving to move back
or move on

this is plot
notoriously wordy
a trap for the unwary

iv taorluath

boy is coming down with something

from a dark car
across the street from the house of a man
— his client —
whose fortune comes from vending machines
boy watches for indiscretion

the wife is home
her lover steers into the driveway
like the night before
light from the streetlamp
glints across his hatchet face

lover enters the house
boy is right behind him
i don’t need much he tells them
five hundred notes and I’m on my way
husband need never know

girl meets boy at the airport
i’m sick – he tells her – over you
she bites him like a flu jab
high on his arm
that’s — he bites her back — better

his bite drives a stake into the ground
her bite turns the boy into a man
the man into a meal
a meal she sends back to the kitchen

v crunluath

this is poetry
not a good listener
not to be trusted when there are
facts to be established
a story to tell

boy meets girl
they cannot kiss
except by locking teeth
they eat
but they do not eat from hunger
with or without her he cannot be well
she is a girl who likes to bite

Note: Piobaireachd is a classical music genre native to the Scottish Highlands and performed on the Great Highland Bagpipe. This poem came about when, at a ceilidh at the late Hugh MacDiarmid’s Brownsbank Cottage during the Biggar Little Festival in 2008, Ann Matheson challenged the writer to make a poem that imitates the musical structure of piobaireachd.

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Andrew McCallum is a fat, middle-aged, married man with a dicky ticker and Nietzschean aspirations. When not striking classical poses on hilltops in the Scottish Southern Uplands, he writes deep into the night sustained by outrageous amounts of caffeine and tobacco.

Categories: New Classics Tags:

Excerpts from Seven Anglian Spells

December 19, 2009 Comments off

by Andrew McCallum


the house appointed for judgement
marked by an arrow bearing certain signs
to assemble the multitude

a decisive place
where we lieutenants add our arrows to
that of the headsman
pushing them into the soft belly of the earth
to signal our kinship
planting a henge that shall
over time
grow into chapels and parliaments

the house appointed for judgement
two or three men clad in the pelts of beasts
heads close
conferring on a skyline


aaron’s beard

a charm against enchantment
a cure for bad milk
a sprig placed in the milk pail
before milking afresh

a sprig hid with cunning
from the priests
about one’s person
against their malignancy



earth baked hard
almost glass

a bead
a lentil
an unnatural device
disguised by name and

to protect against
the uncanniness of nature



land taken in from the forest

like the dogs that scavenge our touns
accepting sometimes
a kind hand
a docile word

that warn the approach of our enemies
yet slink back to the wilderness
when the spirit takes them

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Andrew McCallum is a widely published and award-winning poet from southern Scotland. The countryside around his home is littered with relics of his forebears, who speak through them from as far back as mesolithic times, and with whom Andrew strongly identifies in his poetry. Heideggerian in temperament, Andrew is convinced that language is constructive of the world inhabited by the language user; hence the incantatory or ‘spell-like’ character of the old Anglian words he casts in this poem.

Categories: Words of Power Tags:
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