Northwest NEWS

June 5, 2000


Local poet inspired by year in Scotland

Lucy Dougall by Deborah Stone

   Longtime Woodinville resident Lucy Dougall has led an adventuring life with her husband, from hiking in the Arctic to mountain climbing in Africa, to sabbatical years spent in France, Australia, Chile, Kenya, Chile, and Nepal.

   Ten years ago, she spent a year in the Orkney Islands of northern Scotland, living on a farm by the North Sea. Her recently-published book of poems, Orkney Days (Puget Sound Press), was inspired by the landscape of this area and its inhabitants.

   Although Dougall has written several books before, this is her first foray into poetry. A lifetime advocate and volunteer in the peace movement, she has written two books dealing with war and peace, War and Peace in Literature and The War and Peace Film Guide.

   "I never really thought about writing poems," comments Dougall. "It just sort of happened when I returned from the Orkneys. I took a writing class, and my teacher looked at what I was writing and said it looked like a poem. I began writing poems taken from my impressions of the people and the scenery of the Orkneys, as they were so vivid in my mind."

   Dougall describes this wild, remote place as, "incredibly beautiful, but beautiful in a different way than the Northwest." She says, "In the Orkneys, the sky envelops everything and the weather comes and goes in a very dramatic way. There's a bleakness, a driving rain and wind, and enormous numbers of birds all around in this vast, flat landscape. The beauty has a mystical quality about it. And the people are wonderful. They are very hardworking and spend up to eighteen hours a day laboring on their land, but they also have such artistic souls."

   Dougall's first poem was about a farmer delivering a calf in an Orkney byre (a Scottish barn), an event she witnessed while living there. It won first place in an international Scottish poetry contest. Other poems followed, which also won first place awards in a series of contests.

   Soon she had a book full of poems, and friends urged her to self-publish them. Puget Sound Press stepped in and did the job for her. In April, Orkney Days was released and has received high praise from literary circles.

   Dougall has plans for a second book of poems, which she says will also be in the nature genre. "I love nature and am constantly impressed with the environment around me, in whatever place I may be," says Dougall. "I keep a notebook full of my impressions, which I use to help me remember my observations. Other than that, I have no system, no schedule of writing."

   Lucy Dougall was the featured reader at PoetsWest Reading Performance on June 4 at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle. The PoetsWest Reading Series is a quarterly public performance of poets reading their work at the Frye. The program broadens public interest in poetry and gives exposure to local poets. For details, call 206-682-1268.