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A pint and a poem

Drink beer in celebration of a bard's life

Autumn Phillips
Robert Burns Supper 7 p.m. today Depot Art Center, 1001 13th St. Free. Bring a dish for the potluck, preferably a Scottish dish

They sat around Nora Parker’s long dining room table one Friday night passing bread and cheese, drinking thick Irish beer and discussing history and the derivation of various Celtic names and traditions.

They made jokes and argued about ancient sailing journeys and geography. It was bawdy and intellectual, an atmosphere they hope to replicate tonight at the Robert Burns Supper.

The way they talk about Scottish poet Robert Burns, you would think they had met him personally, which is impossible considering he died in 1796.

“I heard he was quite the lady’s man,” Parker said. Everyone snickered. And that’s how it is around the world with Robert Burns devotees who celebrate his life and his work once a year in the middle of winter.

Robert Burns Suppers are held on or near Burns’ birthday, Jan. 25. The supper includes drinking and eating, reciting Burns’ poetry and singing Burns’ songs.

Greg Brown has hosted two Robert Burns Suppers in North Routt — one at Glen Eden and one in the Moon Hill Schoolhouse. Brown’s great-grandfather was the first generation of his family to move to the United States from Scotland. He also hosted the first Robert Burns Suppers in Fort Collins.

The supper tradition began not long after Burns died.

“His memory had to be sanitized a little before it began,” Parker said. Burns spent his life collecting Scottish songs, writing poetry and patronizing the pub.

Tonight’s supper at the Depot Art Center will be a potluck affair — make a Scottish dish if you know a recipe (students and those without a kitchen won’t be turned away). Traditionally, bagpipers play while the Haggis (a Scottish dish of organs and root vegetables held together in a sheep stomach) is carried into the room. Organizers don’t expect anyone to bring (or eat) Haggis, but they will play the pipes while everyone enters the room.

People who have some Robert Burns poetry should bring a poem to read, or bring a song, a toast or a joke to tell.

“The whole thing is just an excuse to have dinner with your neighbors in the middle of winter,” Brown said.


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