I am a writer, poet, artist and keen amateur musician. Though originally from Paisley, I have lived in Aberdeenshire since 1982 so may still be regarded as a blaa-in.
Before finally being able to focus on my writing in 2014, I kept a roof over our heads by working in the international oil & gas industry as a project manager and facilitator. I am now, ironically, a born-again environmental activist.
My initial academic training was in the sciences, so my experience (and writing) blends diverse perspectives from science to visual art, engineering to parenting, rural life in Aberdeenshire to geopolitics.
About writer's work
I write poetry, short fiction and novels in Scots and English.
My work explores themes of fierce, open hearted persistence in the face of the challenges, compromises and disappointments of daily life - in oil fields and sheep walks, on fishing boats, in drinking dens.
My poetry has been described as speaking ‘from the seams between nature and industry, present and past, with an unflinching commitment to portraying reality in all of its rough complexity’ in a voice characterised by ‘wry humour’ and a ‘blue-collar muscularity and an urgency to get right the exact details of labour, landscape and memory.
I am particularly interested in themes of inter-generational responsibility or, alternatively, how trauma and experience cascades ‘epigenetically’ from generation to generation…and how we stop that happening. My work in recent years has also focussed on themes of addiction and recovery: whether the drug be alcohol, narcotics, consumerism or oil.
I am a graduate of Glasgow University’s M.Litt in Creative Writing and a member of Aberdeen Writers Studio.
My short fiction has won recognition including being runner up in the RSL V.S. Pritchett Award 2007 and second prize in the Fish International Short Story competition 2008.
My poem A Stobbie Hedge was selected as the prize winner in the competition for the launch of the North East Scottish Language Board 2018.
Following the publication of my debut collection, Fallen Stock, I am currently finalising edits on my second poetry collection – First Winter – a long sequence of haiku.
I am also in the midst of a final edit of my novel – Bass –a narrative that ranges across the globe from the USA to Korea via Angola and Scotland.
My current work in progress –Enchantment - is an inter-generational novel in Scots and English set in Aberdeenshire between 1980 and the present.
Current events and projects
I am available to undertake readings, writing residencies and creative workshops in poetry and prose or involving mixed genres e.g. writing and painting, writing and music (either individually or collaboratively).
In workshops, I am particularly interested in working with adult or young adult groups exploring
- form (e.g. poetic forms, flash fiction, short fiction, poster poems)
- voice (especially forms of Scots) and genre (e.g. doric noir)
- particular life-themes e.g. (mental health, chronic pain, addiction and recovery)
- environmental and social justice issues especially as these interface with science and humanities
- work responding to extant texts (e.g. spiritual texts, historical documents)
My long-life experience in industrial and office environments, and the general focus in my writing, on working life, means I am particularly interested in residencies within workplaces and institutional environments. I also have personal experience of addiction and recovery and, more recently, treatment for cancer which have provided a new set of themes, experience and insight.
Recent workshops delivered are outlined above and include:
- Expressing Recovery in the North East
- Doric Bodies
- Recovery Song
Dark Doric –as part of the 2017 Granite Noir Festival.
Expressing Recovery in the North East –workshops involving watercolour painting and poetry exploring the experience of addiction and recovery.
Theoartistry Poets – poets were paired with theologians to create responses to Old Testament texts.
Doric Bodies –workshop encouraging participants to engage with Doric in expressing their experience of chronic pain.
Recovery Song - workshops with Recovery Groups to develop a ‘recovery song’ in collaboration with a youth music group.
Inspiration Point Residency –Residency with a PR Agency responding to work-place themes and facilitating a ‘renga’ workshop with staff.
Dark Doric – a workshop delivered as part of the 2017 Granite Noir Festival.