Last weekend, Lise Sinclair from Fair Isle died after a short illness, aged just 42. Her death has shocked and saddened those who knew her, and those who knew her poetry and songs.
Below is a personal tribute by Malachy Tallack, together with examples of her musical and literary work.
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Lise Sinclair will be missed by a great many people, and for a long time to come.
She will be missed most sorely in Fair Isle, the community which she loved and which loved her. It is there she was brought up, by her parents Barry and Anne, and it is there that she brought up her own children – Tom, Hannah, Alice and Lowrie – together with her husband, Ian.
No one who met Lise could fail to be struck by her presence. She had a disarming openness and a rare generosity of spirit. She was honest and deeply intelligent, kind and genuinely funny, with a laugh that is impossible to forget.
Lise was passionate about many things: about her family and her friends, about music and about writing. She was passionate in the defence of her community, and she was passionate (and sometime fearsome) in debate – whether it was across the kitchen table or in a public meeting.
Like most people who live on small islands, Lise fulfilled a multitude of roles. She edited the Fair Isle Times, she taught music in the primary school, she worked on the croft, she led the choir. To each task she brought real care, and to each an understanding of its significance.
Many people will have known Lise through her songs and through her poems, and there is no doubt that she was an exceptional talent, gaining increasing attention and acclaim. But this talent was made particularly special, I think, because it was grounded in a real place and a real community, to which she was utterly devoted.
For me, Lise embodied the values of that community. Her generosity and openness, her loyalty and hospitality: those are the qualities that she treasured in Fair Isle, and those were the qualities that she sought to pass on, to her children and to others. In that task, as in so much else, she did a wonderful job.
It is a sad truth that those who shine brightest in life leave behind the darkest shadows; and certainly a long, dark shadow has fallen this past week. But the light that Lise brought – to her family and her friends and beyond – will not be extinguished.
A further tribute to Lise can be found on the Scottish Poetry Library website.