Reading at Maggie’s Edinburgh

I’m joining my fellow Other Writer Angus Ogilvy in a reading at Edinburgh’s Maggie’s Centre on Thursday 16 November, 1800-1930. I’m planning to read the whole Risky Breasts sequence – not something I usually do, but it seems appropriate in the safe, welcoming place where I went on courses, retreated to wait for appointments and results, and where I’ve met so many other people affected by cancer.  Do join us!

maggies

 

To absent friends

I’m looking forward to the To absent friends festival on 7 November, when I join other poets and storytellers taking part in the Marie Curie event Telling stories to keep memories alive. I’ll be reading some of my poems written in response to the death of my late partner (there’s a whole sequence in Wristwatch) and more importantly, I’ll be chatting to people about writing to celebrate and commemorate their dead.

To absent friends sets out to be a Scottish version of the Mexican Day of the Dead – I love this idea! As the website says, “People who have died remain a part of our lives – their stories are our stories…” Which is exactly what my poem Utility piece is trying to say.

 

Wristwatch – Edinburgh launch

Wristwatch is a poetry collection about transition and transformation – about being widowed at 44, then getting a cancer diagnosis at 45. It’s about coming through all that and what the world looks like on the other side. It’s moving, funny and true.

The Edinburgh launch of Wristwatch will be on 12 October at Summerhall. More information and (free!) tickets available here via Eventbrite. For every copy of Wristwatch sold at the launch, I’m donating a third of the cover price (£3) to Maggie’s Centre Edinburgh, a cause dear to my heart.

You can buy Wristwatch online from Cinnamon Press. Please do order direct from the publisher – rather than one of the big online booksellers – to support this indy press.

wristwatch front cover
Cover of Wristwatch, by Jay Whittaker, Cinnamon Press 2017

You are invited to the geo-location of Rob and Nigel

I was delighted when my poem You are invited to the wedding of Rob and Nigel was selected to be part of Echoes of the City, a project supported by the Bridge Awards and Edinburgh City of Literature. The brain child of Miriam Johnson, Echoes of the City selected 15 stories and poems rooted in central Edinburgh locations by emerging writers, arranged for them to be recorded by professional actors, and has made them available via Podwalk, a geo-locational, podcast app. If you don’t use iOS (like me!) you can read the poems and stories on the Echoes of the City website and listen to the audio via Soundcloud.

I wrote this poem after my friends Rob and Nigel married a couple of years ago, shortly after Scotland passed its equal marriage legislation. My poem describes the moments after the ceremony when grooms and wedding guests mingled with tourists in West Parliament Square.

Rob and Nigel brought down the cost-per-wear of their wedding outfits by donning them for the launch of Echoes of the City this week. As on the day of their wedding, a downpour was followed by well-timed sunshine, and a group of contributors and supporters strolled down the Royal Mile to the Parliament listening to some of the stories and poems, surrounded by the scenes and buildings that inspired the writers. It’s very engaging to experience Edinburgh by being read stories, gazing up and around. There’s a great selection of historical tales, a dash of spookiness,  and thought-provoking modern perspectives. I’m looking forward to seeking out the locations for the other stories and poems, and listening in situ.

There was a party afterwards in Hemma, where we chatted and shared a rather fabulous cake.  I’m proud to be part of this, and it was lovely to meet other contributors and the people behind the scenes.

rob_and_nigel

Reading at Shore Poets

I’m the new poet at Shore Poet’s February event.

Sunday 26 February 2017
7pm (doors open 630pm)
Oh! Outhouse, 12a Broughton Street Lane, Edinburgh, EH1 3LY
Admission: £5 (concessions £3)

 

Afterword

I always enjoy an evening at Shore Poets – – they are so well organised and curated, with a good balance of music, new and established poets (and of course the legendary lemon cake). I’d been looking forward to being the New Poet since I was invited. A slightly longer set than previously for me – but my voice held up for the full 15 minutes. Thanks to all who cam to support me and to those who came and chatted afterwards. And it was an honour to meet and perform alongside the talented Cera Impala, Ian McDonough, and Kevin Cadwallender.

LGBT+ History Month – spoken word celebration

On Monday 13th February I’m reading at a spoken word celebration for LGBT+ history month.

Venue – Leith Depot, 1900 – 2300.

Afterword:

I had a blast – what a great night, and what a variety of performers and poems. It’s the first time I’ve pulled together an exclusively LGBT+ set, and I was a bit worried it included some of my darker poems – but the audience laughed in the right places. Thanks to everyone who came up and chatted afterwards or who messaged me. The best reward for me as a writer is to know I connected with the listener / reader.

Would be great for this night to become a more regular event. There’s definitely an appetite and a space for it. No pressure, organisers. 🙂