The 2019 Poetry Book of the Year winner was

Hand over Mouth Music by Janette Ayachi

The 2019 Poetry Winner of the Year was Janette Ayachi for Hand Over Mouth Music. In late 2020, Janette spoke to emerging writer and Saltire volunteer, Wanda MacGregor, to talk about the book, the Award and catch up on what had happened since. 

The Shortlist was:

Hand Over Mouth Music

by Janette Ayachi
published by Pavilion Poetry

Janette Ayachi’s debut succeeds in expanding the field of what contemporary Scottish Poetry can say. Tender poems about motherhood sit next to reflections on Ayachi’s Scottish and Algerian roots while desire is treated with a frankness that is as intriguing as it is irresistible.

The Games

by Harry Josephine Giles
published by Out-Spoken Press

The Games generated much discussion on our panel! In their second collection, Harry Josephine Giles tackles sex, the environment and Scottish history in poetry that toys with language and form. These are poems that are funny, political, occasionally violent but always playful and irreverent.


I’m a Pretty Circler

By Iain Morrison
Published by Vagabond Voices

In its swirling, exuberant wordplay, Morrison’s ‘I’m a Pretty Circler’ let’s loose even as it focuses with brilliant precision on the quality of hesitations, desires and humour. Shuttling with a modern sensibility across swagger and self-correction, this scholarly collection swerves fascinatingly between cultural memories and the immediacy of touch.

Moder Dy
Roseanne Watt
published by Polygon


In a beautifully produced first collection Roseanne Watt displays a well developed poetic sensibility. Her poems are pared down; they explore links between an island heritage and city life. Her voice, whether in English or Shetlandic engages deeply and consistently with language.  The collection contains helpful notes, glosses and occasional translations.


Ceum air Cheum

by Christopher Whyte
Published by Acair

Step by Step reflects on the author’s creative life and his adoption of Gaelic in the search for a voice and a homeland.  These meditations on identity encourage and craft verses. A challenging uncompromising search for integrity in deeply considered and at times searingly personal poems.

Line Drawings

by Ross Wilson
published by Smokestack Books

A muscular first full length collection that draws on the author’s experiences as a schoolboy boxing champion Moving from the amateur boxing club to the factory floor, via YouTube lectures and house wives, Ross Wilson’s Line Drawings sits defiantly outside the romantic imagery of ruined Scottish castles to give us his truth.