Looking for more in Writing and Authors or About New Writers Awards?

New Writer 2021: Hannah Nicholson


Hannah Nicholson headshot

Hannah is originally from Brae in Shetland, but has lived in Aberdeen since 2016, and previously lived in Glasgow between 2006 and 2013. Her earliest writing achievement was winning the Shetland Library’s Young Writer of the Year Award in 2005. She graduated from the University of Strathclyde with a BA (Hons) 2:2 in English with Journalism and Creative Writing in 2010, and was a runner up in the 2009 Keith Wright Memorial Prize run by its English department. She went on to study the MLitt in Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen, from which she graduated with distinction in 2017, and then in 2018 completed an MSc in Information and Library Studies at Robert Gordon University. She has also become a 'weel kent faess' (to use a Shetland term) on the spoken word scene in Aberdeen, including a headline set at Speakin Weird back in 2019. 

Hannah has had work published in Gutter, Northwords Now, Causeway, Silk & Smoke, The New Shetlander, Poetry Scotland and Seaborne Magazine, as well as in some student publications. She has also been featured as Makar o the Month for March 2022 on the Scots Language Centre's poetry blog. She has written a number of works in Shetland dialect, in some cases incorporating local folklore, as well as work that focuses on mental health, isolation and loneliness. 

You can find her on Twitter(this will open in a new window) and Instagram(this will open in a new window).

Writing sample

“Fish?” Sarah came downstairs and went to the doorway.

Sure enough, Freya was standing there holding a small bundle of mackerel, which had been bound together with twine and wrapped in cheese cloth. Freya handed them to Sarah and she examined them – they appeared to be fresh, but she couldn’t think who might have left them there or why they’d been presented the way they had. Previously, they’d had older neighbours who’d gone out fishing regularly and would bring mackerel around the square, but those men had died only a couple of years before Daniel had, so there’d been none for a long time now.

“Odd,” said Sarah. Turning to Freya, she asked, “Did you see wha left it?”

Freya shook her head. “They were juist there when I opened the door,” she answered. “Nae knock or onything. Mebbe it wis somebody havin’ a joke?”

Sarah shook her head. “Nah, lass,” she said, “it wis wrapped up nicely, the boys wid laeve them open – and probably no’ as many o’ them either.”

“An’ they’d likely be rotten too,” Freya added. “This eens look fresh, surprised next door’s cats didna go fir them!”

“Och weel,” shrugged Sarah, “I’ll stick them in the fridge and they’ll do for wir tae da night.”

She did so, and saw Freya off to school before making sure that the youngest two, Connor and Ellie, were ready and packed. She walked them up to school, and then went to work. As she made her way there, she took her phone out and posted a quick thank you on her Facebook to the anonymous fish donor, hoping they’d see it and get in touch, and then she added potatoes and oatmeal to the shopping list in her device’s memo pad.

Hannah says:

'It really cheered up a dreich and dull December day to be told I’d won, I’m still processing it. This was my sixth try and it was worth the wait. I’m really excited to experience the opportunities it brings and to meet my fellow awardees.'