Poems and pehs at city football grounds

Fans at Dundee’s United’s Scottish premiership game with St Johnstone at Tannadice Park tomorrow night will have more than just the match’s talking points and their traditional half-time snack to chew over.

As part of a joint initiative between Literary Dundee and the city’s two professional football clubs, napkins bearing a poem especially written for fans by Bill Herbert are being distributed with pies, or “pehs” in the local vernacular, bought at the game.

The napkins were well-received at Dundee FC’s recent win over Morton at Dens Park with one fan tweeting “Never thought I'd say this: interesting napkin with meh peh at Dens Park today!”

Bill Herbert was appointed the first Dundee Makar in September 2013 and is attempting to raise levels of engagement with poetry and literature by placing it in contexts where it might not be expected to be found. Readers and pie eaters get the first half of the poem on their napkin and are encouraged to visit the Literary Dundee website to read the ‘second half’.

Discussing the napkins idea, Bill said, “I like to find new ways of interacting with poetry and that's one of the main things I think the Makarship can do. I feel like my role is about finding new angles on poetry and I think one of the reasons I got the job, as it were, is because I was doing a lot of digital stuff already. The first thing I did for Literary Dundee was a giant digital poem and this is another way of combining the physical and digital to generate interest in poetry.”

The first half poem contained on the napkins reads:

“When Moses McGill came doon the Law Hill

The hauf-time score wiz anely twa nil,

Says he, 'See me, Eh pairtit a sea -

But no as sweet as Tannadice Street

Divides thi Ayrabs fae the Dees...”

The rest can be read at www.literarydundee.co.uk, where details about other work carried out by the University of Dundee-led initiative to promote literacy and a love of literature can also be found.

The napkins also inspired StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival to replicate the scheme, with poetical napkins given out with half-time pies at the recent East Fife-Rangers match at New Bayview Park.

Peggy Hughes of Literary Dundee said “We love poetry, we love football, and pies are some of our favourite things, so it’s lovely to be able to combine all three with Bill’s fantastic poem.”


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