New Writers Awards 2017: Lydia Harris


Lydia published her first pamphlet, ‘Glad Not to be the Corpse’, with Smiths Knoll in 2012 after a year of mentoring with Michael Laskey and Joanna Cutts. Later that year, she was a participant in the Orkney Writers’ Course. In 2013 Lydia joined the Writing School led by Ann and Peter Sansom. Her poems have been published in a range of magazines including The Rialto, The Interpreter’s House, Red Wheelbarrow, Northwords Now and Magma

From her base on Westray, Lydia leads occasional poetry workshops and works alongside people who write in the Orkney language. Trans-reading courses, taught by Elzbieta Wojcik-Leese through the Poetry School, encouraged her in this. She put down roots with her writing, through the Old Red Sandstone which underlies this place. They wind between all the lives lived out under this particular sky, between these tides and which have been shaped by the winds with their hundreds of voices. Since April, she has been writing a poem a week using Jo Bell’s 52 Project prompts.


Writing Sample

My Father’s Compass
He sprung the hinge and the pointer quivered
to the Lairig Ghru on the turf outside
the bothy there, it held its breath and settled
to Largo Law where he set it down
to waver as if it thirsted for water, deep
as the seams his father worked at the Isabella.

Lydia says:

"Knowing about the award has made me feel like a real poet. It’s giving me the feeling I can tackle anything and that language is bean-stalking its way up my spine. Thank you."