Don Paterson

Foreword – Issue One

I’m delighted to introduce the inaugural issue of The Scores, an online poetry journal produced and edited by MFA students at the University of St Andrews. The journal will appear twice a year, and feature poetry in English and in the languages of Scotland, as well as English translations. It will also carry reviews and features. The magazine is not a showcase for student work, but is intended to carry on the tradition of that venerable journal Verse, which was for many years published within the School of English before it became a more transatlantic affair. It’s our intention that The Scores should be just as international in its outlook.

We settled on the name as an affectionate nod to our founder and mentor Douglas Dunn, who long oversaw the original Scores, a print journal featuring poems and short stories by St Andrews’ MLitt students – and because that’s the street we live on. (The School of English lies at the end of The Scores, on the cliff-tops and next to the castle. The word is derived from the Nordic ‘sker’ or the Scots ‘scare’, and so is cognate with ‘skerry’, a rocky outcrop.)

For our first issue, the editors solicited poems and translations from writers we admired, many of whom enjoy international reputations; all responded with great generosity. It was a great pleasure to read their contributions, and I’m sure you’ll agree that we’ve gathered together some very fine work indeed. Future issues will be open to submissions, and I hope that potential contributors will be inspired by what we feel is an extraordinary start. (We wanted to set the bar high, but now see we may have done so to the point of intimidation.)

The Scores does not champion any particular school of poetry, and we hope that our pages will reflect poetry’s broad church. As we’re a School, our mission also includes providing resources that will make the whole business of writing poetry feel a bit less lonely, and to that end we’ve begun a series called – with blinding originality – Letter to a Young Poet. With his usual generosity, our friend Clive James has contributed the first Letter, and we intend that the series will grow to become a valuable library of advice from notable practitioners of our (sometimes) tortured art. Watch out for our top tips video series too, in which visiting poets are backed into a corner with an iPhone shoved in their faces until they tell us something useful.

We have been lucky enough to establish a collaborative relationship with some amazingly talented postgraduate students at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, University of Dundee (thank you, Mary Modeen and Eddie Summerton), and very much hope that future editions will continue to feature their work.

We hope you enjoy this first issue, and will revisit these pages often. I’d like to offer my gratitude to all the students involved in The Scores for their dedication and hard work, in what was already a busy enough year for them. However my especial thanks go to the indefatigable and infinitely patient Helen Nicholson and Amanda Merritt, whose baby this very much is.

by Don Paterson

Return to Issue One