Sweet Anaesthetist – launch

I’m thrilled that my second collection of poems is almost out in the world.

There aren’t any pandemic / covid-19 poems, though there’s plenty of resonance. You’ll find poems about origins – what shapes us, in the womb, and in the world? Poems about how the politics of the outside world shape our daily lives. As with Wristwatch, my poems are rooted in the natural world, from the Hebrides to the ancient landscape of East Lothian. I’ve also been writing about the unnoticed creatures that share our homes; about words, the institutions that house them, and their loss. There are poems about mothers and mothering. My own mother died immediately before lockdown, and while we didn’t always have the easiest of relationships, she was proud of my writing and how I had I achieved a childhood goal (to be a writer) . And of course there are poems about the body, the medical system, and living with cancer. I’ve included a series of elegies for an eclectic range of folk. And finally, a prose poem sequence uniting much of the above, called ‘Egg case.’

Some of the poems in Sweet Anaesthetist were previously published or performed live – heartfelt thanks to all the small presses who published (and considered and rejected) them, and also to the Scottish poetry and spoken word events where I tried out and honed some (very) raw early versions.

Join Cinnamon Press for the launch via Zoom, in an online literary event where three award winning poets launch new collections . The event will begin at 7 p.m. BST on Thursday September 10 2020 and will include a Q&A session with the online audience after the readings. Cinnamon is asking attendees to pre-register – after registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining. There’s a small registration fee, which prevents spam bots and trolls joining, but everyone attending will also be given a discount code for books.

Hope to see some of you there!

The year turned …

Here’s a brief round-up of my writing year’s end, which was unexpectedly busy.

In December I had a blast in Newcastle at the launch of Butcher’s Dog issue 12, which includes my poem Jam rags. I’ll maybe write that poem its own blog post another time … I appreciated the thoughtful editing of Jo Clements and Ian Humphreys, and it was lovely to meet the other contributors.

NPL_ButchersDog12

I was delighted that my elegy Birmingham, again found its ideal home in Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal. This relative newcomer on the litmag scene is a pleasure to read and the editors pay your work real attention. Thank you, Naush Sabah and Suna Afshan.

In early December, I swallowed hard and sent the manuscript for my 2nd collection to my editor, Jan Fortune at Cinnamon Press. Now I’m in the poetry waiting room (which is a lot more pleasant than the medical waiting rooms!) Sweet Anaesthetist  will be published in late 2020. More about that in a month or so.

I feel like I’ve been in editing mode for TOO LONG so it’s a treat to be writing new, raw rubbish with no expectations at all, and no immediate plans to edit. A poetry detox for January.

 

 

Poems of revenge and shivering

I’m just in from the Edinburgh launch of the new 404 Ink anthology We were always here – what a celebration of current queer writing in Scotland. Congratulations to the editors Ryan and Michael, and to all the contributors.  I’m thrilled that my voice is one among many contained in the pink, faux animal print covers. Get yourself a copy if you haven’t already!

Anyway, it seemed a good excuse for one of my occasional posts on how I came to write the poems in We were always here.

Not this again was written in summer last year, in the wake of some homophobic yelling that I thought was long behind me at this age and in this age. Ha, if only. The incident played out pretty much as per the poem, though in the interest of brevity I left out the bit where we drove home rehearsing all the come-backs we should have made. I wish I’d gone back and bollocked them like naughty school boys but that didn’t occur to me until 20 minutes later. Ah, l’ésprit d’escalier.

I wrote Not this again in the immediate furious aftermath, let it rest, reworked it several times, took it to an open mic at the Fringe (the pic below shows me in full flow – possibly just after shouting “lezzies” at a surprised audience), and I’m delighted to see it in print.

notthisagain

A different take on power, Mausoleum, is the final poem in the anthology, and I wrote it after shivering through a long meeting in one of my employer’s hallowed portals, surrounded by white marble busts of dead white men. It’s my take on assimilation and still feeling at odds with (and within) the establishment, even though arguably I’ve been part of it myself for many years. Not that we should take our place at the table for granted in these times.

Putting it out there – reflections on launching Wristwatch

I’ve written a guest blog over at Cinnamon Press about the Wristwatch launch back in October …

“I had written a collection of poems wrung from personal experience, many in response to the death of my late partner and my own subsequent treatment for cancer. Even as I celebrated the news that Cinnamon Press would publish Wristwatch, back in January 2016, I had a classic post-cancer reaction — will I live long enough to see it in print? … Even though many of these poems were previously published, and I’ve read many of them at open mic or at readings, this was a very public statement of what happened to me and the sense I tried to make of it. A celebration of resilience (mine and others) and of life. With bonus nuns and a selkie.”

 

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