Here are my published poems so far (most recent first):
I have been writing poems for artists, at the rate of about four poems per artist, every eighteen months or so. I began with Patti Lean, followed by Alison MacLeod who has featured one of my poems on her website and, in late 2014, I started working with Lisa Hooper. All of these artists are based in Dumfries and Galloway.
‘The Maze, Tiree’ – In 2015 this poem appeared on Scotland’s poetry map and was featured as part of a digital installation at the Stanza Poetry Festival in St Andrews. It was also printed on postcards for sale at the festival. The poem was written in collaboration with Dumfries based artist, Patti Lean in response to a painting of the same name. An image of the painting appeared alongside the poem at St Andrews. Here is a photo of the postcard. I thought it was going to be the kind of postcard you can send.
Here is an image of the beach called ‘The Maze’, on the Island of Tiree. The photo was taken by the artist Patti Lean. And here is my poem:
The Maze, Tiree
It was the whiteness of the shell,
the sweep of wet beach, the spread
of dark rocks holding it down.
It was the lean of the grass,
the wrinkled sea, all the talk
about a change in the weather.
It was the forgotten plastic bag,
the burnt out car, the stains
of oil and rust that lingered.
It was wild primroses on Kennavar
in morning sun, the way we live,
what we have done.
‘The Maze, Tiree’ was first published in the Crichton Writers Anniversary Anthology ’10’ in June 2013 to celebrate the tenth year of this Dumfries based writing group.
The soft pastels, dull greys
of wind-whipped Scottish beaches
were the backdrop to my girlhood
arrivals and departures,
later ferry crossings and trips to the beach
with children. The days they swam and I watched
taking note of islands, points of light,
sand patterns, sails, rigs and piers,
seeing the ocean remake itself wave on wave,
discovering its open careless geometry
and the salt traces of its mark on me.
This poem was selected for an anthology produced by Appletree Writers called ‘In On the Tide’ which was launched at the Dunbar Wee Festival of Words on June 17th, 2013. Proceeds went to the RNLI.
This was the month of Spring Fling, when for four days in May (24-27th), Dumfries and Galloway hosts a huge open studio event for artists and makers. This year (2013) there were 93 participants, 25 more than last year and special bus tours were made available to squeeze in as many studios as possible in a day. I had the honour of having four of my poems – Seascape, The Eye of Proust, Echo and Narcissus, and The Maze, Tiree displayed in a Patti Lean’s studio in Newtonairds, just outside Dumfries; poems that I wrote in response to her paintings, working practice and source of inspiration. (Please see my blog post ‘Spring Fling’ Is Not Just for Artists ) Two of these were later published (see above)
The Wood Carver appeared in ‘The Eildon Tree’, issue 22, (Spring/Summer) in May 2013. This is a creative writing magazine that showcases work from the Scottish borders and beyond. Here it is:
The Wood Carver
He knows there must be shadows
around the eyes, under each wing
to see clearly where the light falls.
A bird emerges from wood
slow grown, worked in stages,
no outcome exactly the same.
He slices evenly through wood
makes feathers, small aces
coaxed gently outward to a fan.
He needs to stand back,
take stock, pace himself,
work each rive and bend.
His tools are rough, unwieldy
for delicate expression.
He hides slips as best he can.
He smiles as the wings rise,
takes comfort; even wood
has some small chance of flight.
Here is a love poem to my African Grey Parrot, called Mojo.
I lie on the sofa
stroking the plum stone of your head
with one finger
and a slow hand
in this our time
your chalky powderdusted lids
half closed and closing
just like mine
your beak in my neck
as your fleshy tongue works lets fly
while I search through scalloped feathers
for the kapok softness underneath
but then you stir
one wing whispers outwards then two
and releases the hot sweet fragrance
Grey Parrot (above) was a poem that I read out at the Bakehouse in Gatehouse of Fleet and it was accepted for publication by a poet and publisher who happened to be in the audience. It appeared in April 2012, in issue 39 of ‘The Journal’.
The I Love You Bridge appeared on the Wordsurge website to support Sheffield’s ‘Festival of the Mind’ in autumn 2012
Graduation was published in ‘Cake’ Magazine Issue 4.
Three poems, entitled Deer in April, Spare Room and The Rock were published in issue 12 of ‘Southlight’, Dumfries and Galloway’s literary magazine, in late September 2012.
September 2012 – June 2013
Several poems have been accepted by ‘Fankle’ (New Writing from Dumfries and Galloway), a local publication which appears every two months as a folded pamphlet, each of which has a different theme: Absent Without Leave in Sept/Oct 2012 (for Issue 12: ‘Comings and Goings’) and When I Am Old I Will… in Jan/Feb 2013 (for Issue 14: ‘Seeking Resolution’) Funeral Note in May/June 2013 (for Issue 16: ‘Down to Earth’) and Smitten by Mittens (for Issue 17: ‘Fired Up’)
Now that I’m in London achieved runner up position in Scotcare’s ‘A London Scot’ poetry competition, judged by A L Kennedy in November 2011. “Standing out among 150 entries..(it was)..selected among the top 5 entries best describing the theme of a London Scot.”