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Olive M. Ritch


Olive M. Ritch is an award-winning poet from Orkney. She now lives and works in Aberdeen and her poetry has been published in many literary magazines, anthologies and websites, including Poetry Review, The Guardian, Agenda, Gutter, New Writing Scotland, The British Journal of Psychiatry, Scottish Medical Humanities, The Poetry Library, The Poetry Cure (Bloodaxe), Don’t Bring Me No Rocking Chair (Bloodaxe) and In Protest: 150 Poems for Human Rights (University of London). She was co-founding editor of Causeway / Cabhsair (published by the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Aberdeen) and co-editor of More Medical Remedies: Creative Writing for Medical Students. She has also been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She is currently working on her first collection.

Writing sample

In Memory of Anne Naysmith

Anne Naysmith, concert pianist, won a place

at the Royal Academy of Music, and was praised

for the ‘rich warmth’ of her Rachmaninov,

but after the piano-playing stopped, what do we know of Anne

Naysmith pacing the streets of Chiswick in rags

stitched to rags for three decades?

Who was she?

Did she still dream Beethoven,

Bach, Debussy? What drummed

in her head at night? Did she dread

morning light on the rubbled muddle

in her makeshift home at the foot of a London underground embankment?

It’s too late – late too late – Anne Naysmith was killed

by a lorry on tenth February, twenty-fifteen

at the age of seventy-seven. People talk

of choice. Did she choose

this life? Who knows

the what or the why, only that something happened

and she turned her back on Wigmore Hall.

Olive says:

"I’m delighted to receive the Next Chapter Award and am extremely grateful to the Scottish Book Trust for selecting me for this wonderful opportunity. There is much to look forward to in the ‘next chapter’ of my writing life."