Christine De Luca is a Scottish poet and novelist who writes in English and in Shetland Dialect, which is a blend of Old Scots with much Norse influence. From 2014 - 2017, she was Edinburgh Makar - poet laureate for the City of Edinburgh.

You can view updates on Christine's latest work below or read more about her poetry and publications in her biography.

September 2023

Recently I enjoyed working with Gail McGarva on a project dear to her heart. She builds replica boats (or 'daughterboats') by hand as a way of celebrating our working boats and ensuring their design and associated building skills are retained rather than lost.

One boat she chose to build was a replica of a working boat from 1882 from the island of Unst, Shetland. I translated the project's story into Shaetlan and recorded it for Gail. You can listen to it below:

Gail McGarva · The Story of Georgie McDonald

July 2023

I was privileged to perform for King Charles' Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication at St Giles, Edinburgh. I read Matthew 5, verses 1-12 in Scots from Murdoch Nisbet's New Testament (1520). You can view the recording of the entire ceremony on BBC iPlayer.

Christine performing at 'A Scottish Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication' on iPlayer

May 2023

Tommy Smith

I am one of four poets commissioned by Tommy Smith and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra to write poems linked to ancient folklore set in the Western Isles. The final composition, Tales of the Tribe, includes my poem Schiehallion - a beautiful Caledonian Fairy Queen. You can hear it below.

February 2023

The Such Fragile Futures website documents my year-long collaboration with visual artist Brigid Collins in Dr Neil's Garden, Duddingston, Edinburgh. You can watch the short introductory film, enjoy the gallery of Brigid's artwork set alongside my poems and listen to me reading parts of the poems.

About the same time, the University of Edinburgh's School of Theology invited me to take part in their Art and Spirituality project. The aim of that project was to explore, across a range of disciplines, the nature of ‘spiritual realities’: a particularly challenging but fascinating area of human experience and understanding. The film produced for Brigid and I formed part of this project. Kitty Wheater, Mindfulness Chaplain at the University of Edinburgh also contributed.

I was also interviewed by Caleb Froelich about the Art and Spirituality project and my contribution to it.

January 2023

My Radio Shetland interview from the Summer, with Jen Stout, is now available on Mixcloud. We discussed the relationship between place and writing; the importance of heritage and language.

And a brief interview about my poetry for the online Shetland News, compiled by Carol Jamieson.

November 2022

Happy times in Shetland launching The Trials of Mary Johnsdaughter in Lerwick and also in Waas, the township where the 18th story played out and where I was brought up. This was followed by spending time in some local primary schools introducing classes to Da Peerie Prince, my translation of the French classic for children, Le Petit Prince. It was lovely to share this with local writers Ann Marie Anderson and Bruce Eunson.

I was also fortunate enough to spend a day or two in Orkney to take part in St Cecelia's Night Concert for Orkney Arts Society with the Orkney composer Gemma McGregor and the Edinburgh Quartet. Jim Chalmers and I read poems which had inspired Gemma's fascinating compositions.

October 2022

Tutto è Percezione, a collection poems in English by Christine De Luca, translated into Italian by Francesca Romana Paci

October saw me in northern Sardinia, taking part in the small poetry festival Ottobre in Poesia. I had taken part in the festival in October 2015 so it was lovely to meet up with friends in Sassari and with Francesca Romana Paci from Milan who, over the years, has translated my poems into Italian.

The festival produced a little book of my poetic responses to art, particularly some of Victoria Crowe's Venice paintings. Its title is Tutto è Percezione (All is Perception) and the poems are in English, with translations into Italian.

I was delighted to re-established contact with the wonderful Welsh poet Menna Elfyn who was the other international guest. (Sadly we had to make do with her virtual visit due to Covid).

September 2022

Da Peerie Prince, a translation of Antoine De Saint-Exupéry's 'Le Petit Prince' by Christine De Luca

I am delighted that the German publisher, Edition Tintenfass is publishing my translation of Le Petit Prince, the French classic children's story by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry. It has already been translated into several hundred languages. By way of introduction to Da Peerie Prince, I wrote:

A pilot straandit i da Sahara Desert faas in wi a mosst strange fellow - a peerie prince fae asteroid B-612. Yarnin aboot aathin, especially aboot whit's important in life, dey come ta see dat 'bairns haes ta geng peerie-wyes wi growen-ups' an dat 'da important thing is whit we canna see'. I hoop you'll come ta love dis story: hit's philosophical, whimsical, touchin an - at times - a peerie bit sad.

There's also a full glossary of Shetland words used in 'Da Peerie Prince' and their English equivalents.

August 2022

The Trials of Mary Johnsdaughter, a novel written in Shetlandic and English by Christine De Luca

Summer saw the launch of my new novel - The Trials of Mary Johnsdaughter - from Luath Press.

A fictionalised true story set in Waas, Shetland in the 1770s, it tells of the unexpected arrival in October of a shipload of poor, storm-struck Caithness emigrants bound for North Carolina. Life in Waas, a poor crofting-fishing community - and Mary's life in particular - is about to take a dramatic turn.

There are parallels with today's migrations: people trying to escape, not just poverty, but lives dominated by small, powerful elites; and finding themselves washed up on shores, at the mercy of strangers whose culture and tongue are unfamiliar.

July 2022

'Gingko, Dog Rose & Hops' by Brigid Collins

July saw the culmination of a year long collaboration with Brigid Collins, artist-in-residence at Dr Neil's Garden in Duddingston, Edinburgh.

The garden - maintained and developed by volunteers under the guidance and expertise of Claudia Pottier - is a special place where you feel your burdens slip and your spirit lift. It lies below Arthur's Seat, on a rocky slope down to Duddingston Loch with its picturesque Thomson's Tower at the water's edge. The tower was designed by Playfair and built in 1825 for the local curling society.

We spent time quietly in the garden, in all seasons and, as time went on, learning more about the plants and habitats. Brigid painted and drew in all weathers and I tried to respond to her stunning work. This culminated in an exhibition in the little tower. We are currently contemplating a book. A short film will be available soon.

Brigid Collins in Dr Neil's Garden, Duddingston, Edinburgh

March 2022

I've just returned from a wonderful trip to Finland where I had invitations to read my poems in Helsinki, Tampere and Oulu. I'd never been as far north as Oulu before: four and a half stunning snowy hours by train from Tampere through forests and frozen lakes. I had the opportunity to meet up with friends and made many new ones too as people were so kind and hospitable. It's not every day I get to have morning tea at a British Embassy!

At each of the poetry events I included a piece from the Kalevala, their famous folk tales, read in Finnish, Swedish and Shetlandic. That was appreciated, and good fun. They seemed fascinated by the Shetland dialect. At the Helsinki event - held in their lovely new city library - there was a musical interlude from a young man, Robbie Sherrat, who had studied traditional fiddle with Catriona Macdonald. (Catriona and I had done a performance of several Kalevala stories in Shetlandic at the Edinburgh Book Festival a few years ago.)

One lovely personal experience was a walk with my Oulu hosts across the bay near the head of the Gulf of Bothnia where the sea ice was still very thick. I resisted the urge to kite-snowboard (that looked amazing) but did try my hand at ice-fishing!

Christine De Luca, Ice fishing in Oulu, Finland

July 2021

Veeve, a collection of Shetlandic and English poems by Christine De Luca

Veeve, a new collection of poems in English and Shetlandic is at the printers and will be available from July.

It will be stocked in all good bookshops or you can purchase Veeve directly from the publisher, Mariscat Press.

Hansel Cooperative Press has recently published a handsome, tri-lingual poetry-art pamphlet called The Art of Poetry & Other Poems with thirteen poems by the Portuguese poet Eugénio de Andrade, with English versions by the celebrated translator Alexis Levitin and my versions in Shetlandic. The pamphlet includes drawings by John Cumming and is further enhanced by its design and typography.

There are 350 numbered copies available from Topping & Company Booksellers in Edinburgh, Stromness Books and Prints, The Shetland Times Bookshop or directly from me.

Christine De Luca, Alexis Levitin & John Cumming, The Art of Poetry & Other Poems

June 2021

The exhibition of the paintings and poems from Another Time, Another Place is over but a beautiful hardback with Victoria Crowe's paintings is available from The Scottish Gallery. You can also purchase the book from The Shetland Times Bookshop or directly from me.

Christine De Luca & Victoria Crowe, Another Time, Another Place with Review

A musical response - a song cycle inspired by image and word - courtesy of the Michael Cuddigan Trust.

May 2021

Grottie-Buckie an Tirli-Wirli

This month sees the release of something fun! Grottie-Buckie an Tirli-Wirli is my new children's storybook written in Shetland dialect.

It is beautifully illustrated by Ken Wilson and published by The Shetland Times. It is available from Shetland Times Bookshop in Lerwick.

Tommy Smith

I am one of four poets recently commissioned by Tommy Smith and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra to write poems linked to ancient folklore set in the Western Isles. Folk musicians are also involved to give a rich mix of sounds and words and inspire new compositions.

There will be four suites of Beasties of Scotland Olde which will magnify and reveal creatures of mythic proportion; an exploration into the soul of Scotland through poetry and music. My three mythic creatures are:

  • Trow - descendants of Viking Trolls
  • Schiehallion - a beautiful Caledonian Fairy Queen
  • Redcap - a goblin creature of unthinkable horrors whose cap drips blood

April 2021

In that serendipitous way in which life sometimes surprises us, several projects or collaborations I've been involved in seem to be coming to fruition despite lockdown.

Christine De Luca & Victoria Crowe, Another Time, Another Place

The most immediate is a 'conversation' with the wonderful Scottish artist Victoria Crowe - Another Time, Another Place. The twelve paintings describe an arc of work, as her health and energy returned following a serious illness; and, as if that wasn't enough, then came lockdown. I have been delighted to be part of this project, writing poems in response to her paintings.

The Scottish Gallery

There is an exhibition and associated events at the Scottish Gallery, and a lovely book with the paintings and poems published by The Scottish Gallery. There will also be some original musical compositions - a song cycle inspired by image and word - courtesy of the Michael Cuddigan Trust.

You can join me at a series of virtual events to celebrate the launch of Another Time, Another Place:

September 2020

Carlos Llaza translated five of my poems into Spanish. These formed part of a web collection called Cinco poemas. There is also additional commentary by Edvige Pucciarelli from Milan.

Cinco Poemas - Spanish Transaltions of five of Chritine's poems

January 2020

I've translated poems from Aloysius Bertrand's Gaspard de la nuit (1842) into Shetlandic as part of a musical collaboration with Shetland composer and concert pianist, Neil Georgeson. Neil has previously set one of my poems - Starn Sign - to music and it's great to get the chance to work with him again.

Neil will be performing at Mareel in April 2020. There will be new compositions and also some beautiful Ravel music inspired by Bertrand's poems. I hope my translations will add to the spooky atmosphere!

I'm also exploring the possibility of collaborating with Shetland harpist Sophie Rocks on another project.

October 2019

In October I took part in a poetry festival in Tavira, Portugal to celebrate the Festa dos Anos de Álvaro de Campos. De Campos is a heteronym of the famous Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa, Portugal's equivalent to Robert Burns. A series of fascinating events were organised by Tela Leão, the President, Artistic Director and moving force behind Partilha Alternativa. I was joined by with fellow-Shetland poet Christie Williamson.

Christine with statue of Fernando Pessoa, Portuguese poet, Lisbon

I have been involved in many events in 2019, including the Edinburgh International Book Festival; spreading the word about the brilliance of Eduardo Paolozzi. Some events involved music as well as poems, ranging from a Chamber choral group in St Mary's Cathedral to jazz at the Hunterian Art Gallery in Glasgow. I also travelled to Italy to launch Paolozzi at Large in Edinburgh - a collaboration with Carlo Pirozzi - where we performed in Poetry Vicenza 2019 and in Milan.

Ponte S Paola with sculpture, Vicenza Italy

November 2018

November saw the launch of my latest collaboration - a collection of artistic and poetic responses to the works of Eduardo Paolozzi - at Blackwells book shop in Edinburgh. I co-edited the publication with Carlo Pirozzi and Italian translations of the poems were created by Professor Francesca Romana Paci.

Christine De Luca with Professor Francesca Romana Paci at the launch of 'Paolozzi at Large in Edinburgh' in Blackwells, Edinburgh

Paolozzi at Large in Edinburgh is available in both hardback and paperback editions from Luath Press.

Christine De Luca with Carlo Pirozzi

June 2018

I visited the Ålesund area of Norway in late May, taking part in two poetry events. They were based on my recent bi-lingual collection, Glimt av opphav - Glims o Origin with Norwegian versions by Odd Goksøyr, published by Ura Forlag in late 2017. It was lovely to meet up with other Norwegian friends who had also visited Shetland with me earlier in the year, in particular Øystein Orten who contributed an essay to the book.

Christine De Luca with Odd Goksøyr at the 'Under Linda' event

The first event meant a return visit to the beautiful Ivar Aasen Centre in Østra Volda, with contributions from all three of us (including Odd singing The Unst Boat Song). The other event was a garden party for around 70 guests in the Orten's garden, on the island of Hareidlandet. It was a mix of poetry and music, but no party in Norway seems complete without cake! Good too to meet up with poetry friend and translator Andreas Bjåstad and publisher Jan Ove Ulstein.

Christine De Luca at the Dalsnibba mountains, above the Geiranger Fjord with Øystein Orten, Knut Strand and Odd Goksøyr

April 2018

I'm recently back from a short poetry visit to Finland at the invitation of FinnBrit. In Helsinki I shared the reading with my Finnish friend Riina Katajavuori. Our theme was internal and external landscapes which we enjoyed exploring.

Christine De Luca with Riina Katajavuori

In Tampere I had the joy of meeting up with fellow Scot, Donald Adamson, and staying with him and his wife, Riika, in Pispala. It was all too short but good to meet up with old friends (Vivan Hakalax) and make new ones.

Christine De Luca with Donald Adamson at Pispala

November 2017

Christine De Luca, Glims o Origin

November brought two joys: a launch in Norway of Glims o Origin, a Shetlandic/ Norwegian bilingual Selected (published by Ura Forlag); and participation in the Wirdsmit, the Orkney Book Festival.

The Norwegian translations were done with great care by Odd Goksøyr, with the addition of an essay by Øystein Orten. If you would like to purchase a copy do get in touch with me.

Christine De Luca reading poetry at the 'Wirdsmit ' event

Wirdsmit was a very lively Book Festival run by the tireless committee of The George Mackay Brown Fellowship. This year they were celebrating the 900th anniversary of the death of St Magnus. I enjoyed judging their poetry competitions, doing a children's workshop, taking part in a lively forum on dialect and sharing a reading with Amy Liptrot and Tim Morrison.

October 2017

I passed the Makarship on to Alan Spence at a Civic Reception hosted by the Lord Provost in Edinburgh's City Chambers. Suddenly there is more time for my own work again but what shape that will take is as yet unknown!

Christine De Luca, Handover of Edinburgh Makar, City Chambers, 2017

September 2017

Christine De Luca, Heimferðir - Haemfarins

In September I was delighted to take part in the Reykjavik International Literary Festival - doing readings from Heimferðir - Haemfarins, a bi-lingual Selected, published in Iceland by Dimma. The translations were done by the talented Icelandic poet Aðalsteinn Ásberg Sigurðsson.

Launch in a bookshop in Reykjavik, further events were held in Nordic House (designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto) and evening events in the atmospheric Iðnó Theatre. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet up with friends who are also writers, Gyrðir Elíasson and Riina Katajavuori.

Christine De Luca, Launch of Heimferðir - Haemfarins, 2017 Christine De Luca, Singing The City

My Makarship also comes to an end in October 2017 so, to celebrate the passing of the torch, The Saltire Society has published a collection of my poems written during my time as Makar.

I launched Singing the City at the Scottish Poetry Library with the help of a previous Makar, Stewart Conn. It was wonderful seeing friends from all of the different organisations who have helped me during my time as Edinburgh's Makar.

May 2017

Christine De Luca, Poetry Vicenza 2017

I was privileged to participate in Poetry Vicenza 2017, an annual Spring-time festival of contemporary poetry, art and jazz. Vicenza is an elegant old town, a jewel of Palladian architecture.

The Festival Director, Marco Fazzini, is an academic as well as an important moving spirit in the arts. He has built up the festival to include many varied international voices. The events and exhibitions take place in a rare variety of spaces, often in gracious Pallazzi.

I especially enjoyed the music and poetry of Marta y Micó from Barcelona, the powerful poetry of the Romanian poet, Marta Petreu and the performing brilliance of the Paris-based poet Guy Gofflette.

I owe much to Professor Francesca Romana Paci who translated Dat Trickster Sun (Mariscat Press) into Questo sole furfante (Trauben, Torino). Besides the evening event in the Palazzo Leoni Montanari, I had a wonderful session with senior school pupils and also with students of Venice University.

November 2016

A much belated update! Here are some of the things I've been up to over the past 18 months. Some very interesting collaborations with:

Tommy Smith and Karma - Following a commission (along with Shetland poet Alex Cluness) from saxophonist and professor of music at the Conservatoire in Glasgow, Tommy Smith, I wrote 6 poems tracing some of Shetland's history. He then composed wonderful jazz pieces based on each of the poems. We premiered Sea Treeds at the 2015 Shetland Jazz Festival and followed this up with two further events: the 2015 Edinburgh Jazz Festival and in March 2016 at Stanza International Poetry Festival in St Andrews. Karma, a talented band, comprises Paul Harrison (piano and keyboards), Alyn Cosker (percussion) and Kevin Glasgow (bass guitar).

Catriona Macdonald - Catriona is a Shetland traditional fiddler and Head of Performance at Newcastle University. I had been commissioned by Edinburgh International Book Festival to prepare a translation into Shetlandic of some piece of literature which could engage an audience for at least an hour at the 2015 festival. I chose four of the tales from the Finnish folk epic Kalevala. I quickly realised some musical interpretation would provide colour and interest and was delighted that Catriona took up the challenge and joined in the commission. We repeated the performance in August 2016 at Shetland's Fiddle Frenzy.

Brigid Collins - Brigid is a free-lance artist who got me involved in a lovely piece of 3D book art she was undertaking with students at Edinburgh College of Art. They created books based on the history of The Royal Mile, inspired by a poem I had written with help from Ingrid Murray for the Royal Mile Business Association. The resulting books were stunning.

October 2015

Christine performing at the 'Ottobre in Poesia' festival

Christine was guest poet at the literature festival, Ottobre in Poesia, held in the old town of Sassari in North-West Sardinia. She took part in a seminar with students of English Literature at the local university and also a launch event for the bi-lingual version of Dat Trickster Sun (Questo sole furfante) along with her translator Professor Francesca Romana Paci. She was presented with a lovely framed 'key' to the town and hopes to return to such a warm-hearted literary community.

Scottish Poetry Library Logo

Also in October, Christine was invited to participate in a My Life In Poetry session by the Scottish Poetry Library.

In conversation with director, Dr Robyn Marsack, at the National Library of Scotland, Christine talked about her life through the poems that have affected her most at different stages in her life. She revealed that her childhood was "the start of a life-long love affair with the art of poetry".

February 2015

Dundee University Review of the Arts logo

Christine's poetry pamphlet Dat Trickster Sun has been reviewed by Dundee University's Gail Low:

"Christine De Luca's most recent collection poses, and obliquely answers, many questions so well...her English and Shetlandic sit well together in this master class in how to edit and sequence poems in a collection."

November 2014

Christine represented the Shetland dialect in the Wikitongues project. It is a global effort to record and provide access to every language in the world with a network of volunteers on every continent who work to bring new language videos every week. She was not allowed to speak English!

October 2014

In October 2014 Christine's poetry pamphlet Dat Trickster Sun (Mariscat Press) was short-listed for the Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlets. This award is organised by the Wordsworth Trust and The British Library. The judges commented:

"In the Shetlandic poems of Christine De Luca we hear the cry of seabirds and the crash of the waves in the wind-borne melodies of the lines themselves. On these rocky shores, the language itself is a character - playful, wistful and ultimately indistinguishable from the world in which it belongs. But as well as celebrating otherness and difference, these poems insist on the need in all of us to unpack our hearts with whatever words we have, hurl our voices 'inta da heevens'."

The eventual winner was Laura Scott for What I Saw. Other poets short-listed were Mimi Khalvati, Ian McMillan, Richard Moorhead and Samantha Wynne-Rhyderrch. Christine had the opportunity to read a few poems from her collection at the awards' dinner in The British Library.

Christine and other poets working

Christine also took part in a Stanza event in St Andrews, reading from the contemporary Palestinian poetry anthology, A Bird is Not a Stone. This popular anthology, described as compact and compassionate, represents a dialogue between Palestinian writers and Scottish writers. An important link was literal translations of the original poems. A reviewer for Stanza wrote:

"This compassion is further reinforced when hearing the poets delivering the words they had written with other people. Harry Giles and Christine De Luca, reading in Scottish dialects and English, seemed with their brightness and humour to embody the vitality of the project. The intrinsic music of Arabic (read by Abla Oudeh) met and combined happily with Shetlandic, English and Scots to create an atmosphere of longing; when the event was over, ordinary speech came like an outburst.

I must admit that the first time I read the anthology, I didn't have patience to sift through the non-English translations (the final other tongue being Gaelic). Yet, Christine read so beautifully that it was immediately necessary to go back and reverse that mistake -with the rhythms I had just heard serving as new reference points, the poems in Shetlandic did work much easier."

September 2014

Ahead of the Scottish Referendum, Christine's poem, The Morning After has been read by Scotland's young voters. You can watch the video on the BBC website.

Young voters recite 'The Morning After' by Christine De Luca

Her poem was also published in The Scotsman and is featured on the Scottish Poetry Library's blog. Use the player below to hear Christine reading her poem:

August 2014

Christine worked on a translation of a British Sign Language (BSL) poem into Shetland Dialect. The final piece, called The Stars are a Map I Unfurl, is used in a kinetic, BSL film. The film features the creative work of BSL poet Gary Quinn, based on the epic solo voyage of Gerry Hughes, also profoundly deaf.

Kyra Pollitt, project leader, was the intermediary; she provided Christine with a BSL interpretation. From this Christine transformed it into the written poem. David Bell then applied his skills in kinetic typography to make Christine's words come alive.

You can read more about the project on the Scottish Poetry Library's Website.

June 2014

The City of Edinburgh Council hosted a Reception to welcome Christine as the new Makar on the 27th of June 2014. She is the fourth Makar, following Stewart Conn, Valerie Gillies and, most recently, Ron Butlin.

Stewart Conn, Christine De Luca, Valerie Gillies and Ron Butlin - Four Edinburgh Makars

Christine's appointment also featured in the ITV Scotland News and in the Edinburgh Evening News.

Christine De Luca's appointment as Makar in the Edinburgh Evening News, 28th June 2014

May 2014

Edinburgh Museums' Logo

Christine was appointed as the new Edinburgh Makar by The City of Edinburgh Council on the 27th of May 2014. She will hold the position for the next three years over which time she'll be involved in several poetry projects.

Cover of 'Dat Trickster Sun'

This month also saw Christine launch her new poetry pamphlet, Dat Trickster Sun, in Shetland (at the Bonhoga Gallery) and in Edinburgh (at Blackwell's bookshop). The collection offers a metaphysical take on life rooted in landscape, in nature and in the human condition.

Here is a selection of poems from the collection.

March 2014

Mariscat Logo

Soon to be launched by Mariscat, Dat Trickster Sun, is a new collection of poems by Christine De Luca. Some of the poems are in English while others are in Shetlandic.

It will be launched in Shetland on Friday May 30th at the Bonhoga Gallery at 7:00 pm She will be joined by Shetland poet Laureen Johnson.

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  • "In this collection Christine De Luca shows herself to be not only a heavyweight poet in her own right but also a trailblazer for the rest of us."Elizabeth Rimmer, Northwords Now, Spring Issue, 10/11
  • "Christine brings us the everyday, its gentleness, its cruelties, its heartbreaks, its immense undertow."Salon International du Livre Insulaire, August 2007
  • "She manages to reach out across the world with a richness of language and thought that is intensely satisfying."The Herald, December 2005
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