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Posted on 1st December, 2020 in For Educators, For Writers

The Cairngorms Lyric

Teenagers doing outdoor writing activities

The Cairngorms Lyric is a new kind of poem I invented in 2019 when I was Cairngorms National Park Writer in Residence, facilitating Shared Stories: A Year in the Cairngorms. It is inspired by poetic forms like the Japanese Haiku and the American Sentence, but unique to the Cairngorms.

The Cairngorms Lyric is made up of:

  1. fifteen words*
  2. an element of nature from the Cairngorms
  3. a word or name of non-English origin
  • It can be in any language but must include at least one non-English word. (For example, our Pictish, Scots and Gaelic place-names.)
  • It can be any line length, any number of lines, any number of sentences, any punctuation.
  • It can include rhyme or not and can have a title, including, or in addition to, the 15 words.
  • 15 words because:
    • The Cairngorms National Park was established in 2003.
    • It includes 5 local authorities.
    • It has 5 of the 6 highest mountains in Scotland: Ben Macdui, Braeriach, Cairn Toul, Sgor an Lochain Uaine, Cairn Gorm
    • Its waters flow into 5 of Scotland’s most famous rivers. The Spey, The Dee, The Don, The Tay and The Esk
  • 3 x 5 = 15.

It’s called a ‘Lyric’ because it’s a poetic form that normally expresses personal feelings but encompasses a wide range of styles and structures. The Shared Stories project was all about encouraging people to respond creatively to nature through words, helping us to express how much people and nature need one another to thrive. Lyrics are also the words to songs and in Scotland there has always been a strong link between poetry and music.

Here are some examples of Cairngorms Lyrics from the Shared Stories project:

Redpolls and siskins upside down in the birkin branches; 
In the forest many lifetimes deep. 
Carolyn Robertson
A-slop, a-squelch, a-splorroch.
Wellies tugged back by the peaty yerth.
Playfully we leap on home.
Victoria Myles
Spring rises from her kip to find her bed filled with snow.
Winter willnae go.
Merryn Glover

Click here for the story of how it began.

Try some yourself and share them online with the hashtag #CairngormsLyric!

You may like to visit our Scottish National Parks’ Literary Landscapes resource for inspiration.