I am a published and prize-winning poet and translator, with experience of working with refugee poets, and am also a qualified Further Education teacher. I have regularly appeared at poetry events in Scotland, including the StAnza Poetry Festival, and have had three pamphlets and four books of poems published. I was one of the poets commissioned for Hidden City in 2007 and also one of the 100 poets who read at StAnza in that year. I was Makar for the Federation of Writers 2007-2008. I am an active member of Scottish PEN.
About writer's work
I am interested in translation both as a discipline of language and as a means of getting inside the skin of the translated poet, and have been involved for several years in 'polishing' poems and short stories by Romanian writers. I have also had my own poems translated into Romanian (most recently in the new Anthology of Scottish Poets, Diehard Press 2016) and into Albanian, Arabic, German and Italian. A new and rewarding project has been working with the poets Maggie Rabatski and Sheila Templeton on translating/responding to each other's poems in Gaelic, Scots and English. The resulting pamphlet, Owersettin, came out from Tapsalteerie Press this year.
In my own poetry I have explored a wide variety of subjects. It would be fair to say that I am less interested in writing directly out of my day to day experience, than in using that experience to inform my attempts to empathize with and sometimes pretend to speak for people (and not only people) from many different backgrounds and periods of time. I like poetry to engage with ideas, though never to be prescriptive or overtly political; enjoy experimenting with form and with different voices.
I won the 2004 Petra Kenney award; the 2005 Blinking Eye competition (which led to the publication of my first full collection); was shortlisted for the 2006 Hamish Canham Prize; commended in the 2006 and long-listed in the 2014 National Poetry Competition. In 2007 I won the Brownsbank International Poetry Competition. I won a menteeship with the Royal Literary Fund in 2005, my mentor being Mario Petrucci. In 2009 I was commended in the Wigtown Poetry Competition and awarded second prize in the McLellan Award for Poetry. In 2011 I won the Grey Hen poetry competition and was commended for the second year running in the Poetry on the Lake competition. In 2012 I won the Second Light Long Poem competition and in 2013 the Campbell Burns Competition. In 2017 I was one of the joint prizewinners in the Cinnamon Poetry Pamphlet Competition and my winning pamphlet War Baby is due out from Cinnamon Press early in 2018. My fifth full collection, centred on the life of the visionary, Margery Kempe, was published by Oversteps Books in May 2017..
Websites featuring the authorOverstep BooksPoetry PFSt Mungo's Mirrorball
Current events and projects
I am available to do readings and workshops, particularly translation workshops, to judge poetry competitions and to give one-to-one advice on individual poems - particularly those by poets at the start of their careers. I am also available to give talks on Fr Meslier (have done so for the Edinburgh Humanist association, for instance), and other historical figures featured in my poems, and on various aspects of poetry. Particularly interested in working with older people.
Other work includes: a commission (with two other poets) for ConFAB’s Hidden East project in 2013; a poem published in the Writers at the Hunterian anthology, 'Miscellaneous'; translations into English and Scots of the French poet Paul-Jean Toulet published in the LTCS anthology Quaich and accepted for publication in Translation Ireland. I was one of seventeen poets commissioned to write a poem for The Laws of The Game, an anthology to celebrate the Commonwealth Games, and was also invited this year to contribute a poem to the Scotia Extremis project. Next year (2017) I will be judging the Segora Competition. I have also had poems selected this year for the Glasgow Women Poets, and Aiblins political poetry anthologies.