Budding poets salute Scotland’s bard at McLaughlin’s 16th Burns supper

The 16th Annual McLaughlin College Robert Burns Night, held on the occasion of the famous Scottish poet’s birthday, Jan. 25, was another roaring success, attended by 70 hardy students, Fellows and guests who defied the cold.

McLaughlin College Robert Burns Night, York University
Above: From left, Bob Drummond, dean of York’s Faculty of Arts, poetry winner Sarah Wert, and Ian Greene, master of McLaughlin College

Piper Ian Greene, the college master, piped in the haggis, and introduced highland dancers Marissa McLelland and Janice Conrick. Twenty or so budding York student poets read their work, introduced by McLaughlin Fellow Bob Drummond, professor and dean of York’s Faculty of Arts, and Greene.

The first-prize winner was Sarah Wert for her poem, Purgatory. The second-prize winner was Nisa Lawson and third was Amber Bond. Ray Gobin won in the public policy category and Margaret Campbell’s Birthday Greetings Rabbie was the poem judged most true to the spirit of Burns.

Tony Crawford, McLaughlin Fellow and stalwart of York’s Instructional Technology Centre, recited Burns’ Ode To A Haggis, while Master Ian Greene expertly carved the “great chieftain o’ the puddin-race”, with blades a-flailin’. Several Fellows sported their kilts, including Drummond, Greene, Crawford, and George Blake, speaker of the McLaughlin Student Council.

Two haggises were consumed in their entirety, along with neeps, tatties and the occasional wee dram of scotch. A highlight of the evening was Drummond’s poem poking fun at the year in Canadian and international politics.

The first McLaughlin Burns Night was a result of a conversation between McLaughlin Fellow Roger Kuin, professor emeritus in York’s English Department, Faculty of Arts, and the late Ben Wicks, cartoonist, author and literacy advocate.

Kuin has organized the poetry contest each year and continues to do so electronically from his permanent home in France. Now that he is fully retired, Kuin was not physically present for Burns Night – for the first time – but he was definitely there in spirit, having judged the poem submissions with the help of Professor Emeritus Maurice Elliot, and McLaughlin Fellow Derek Cohen.

Submitted to YFile by Prof. Ian Greene, master of McLaughlin College and professor in York’s Faculty of Arts.