I was brought up in the rural Scottish Borders, but moved to Edinburgh to go to University and have been here ever since. I hold a MA (Hons) in English Literature, a MSc in Creative Writing (Poetry), and a PhD in Creative Writing and Contemporary Women’s Poetry, all from the University of Edinburgh. In 2016 I was a Scottish Book Trust Reading Champion, working at Craigmillar Library in Edinburgh, and focusing on engaging young people aged 10-18 with reading. Prior to that I worked for Scottish Book Trust as the Young Adult Project Co-Ordinator, working primarily with adults who struggle with literacy. I've also worked as a creative facilitator in community groups including Bethany Christian Trust, Crisis Skylight, Waverley Care and Pilton Community Health Project. For five years I worked as a Lecturer in Literature and Communication at Edinburgh College, mostly working with young men aged 15-21. As well as working as a writer in the community - and doing the odd bit of writing, of course! - I blog at onenightstanzas.com, and you can also find me on Twitter @OneNightStanzas.
About writer's work
My poetry has appeared in numerous publications including The Guardian, The Edinburgh Review, Popshot and PANK. It has also been widely anthologised, appearing in collections like Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam (Cinnamon/Eyewear 2012), Where Rockets Burn Through: Contemporary Science Fiction Poetry from the UK (Penned in the Margins, 2012), Fit to Work: Poets Against ATOS (2013), Furies: an anthology of women warriors (For Books' Sake, 2015), and the Scottish Poetry Library's Best Scottish Poems (2008, 2009, 2014). Over the past five years, my poems have won numerous accolades, including the Virginia Warbey Poetry Prize in 2010, and the inaugural International Salt Prize for Poetry in 2013. As a performance poet, I’ve competed in slams across Scotland and won several titles – in 2012 I even became a Literary Death Match Champion! My debut pamphlet collection, The Mermaid and the Sailors, was published by Red Squirrel Press in 2011, and my debut full-length collection, This changes things, was published by Bloodaxe in 2016. I have been twice shortlisted for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award (2014 and 2016), and in 2016 This changes things was also shortlisted for a Saltire First Book Award. I'm also a novelist, currently working on my debut book, a literary crime novel. In 2014 the first draft of this book was longlisted for the Peggy Chapman Andrews (Bridport) Novel Award, and in 2016 a later draft won the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize. I am represented by Nelle Andrew at Peters, Fraser and Dunlop.
Websites featuring the authorBlogTwitterTumblrScottish Poetry Library : Mermaid and the Sailor
Current events and projects
I'm always keen to work with hard-to-reach groups. Through the various community projects I've been involved with, I've gained experience in working with all types of people, including:
- reluctant readers
- young people aged 12+
- adults who struggle with literacy
- refugees, asylum seekers and migrants
- adults living with life-limiting health conditions
- homeless adults
- offenders and those at risk of offending
I am happy to work with just about any group, and always like to try new things!
I am interested in all kinds of creative projects. I hold a PDA in Adult Education and have trained as a facilitator and workshop leader – I am particularly interested in working with young people, vulnerable adults and “reluctant readers.” I love to collaborate and I’m always keen to hear new ideas.
I’m a seasoned performer and happy to read my work at everything from open mics to slams. I’m also an experienced slam and poetry contest judge. Some performance events I have been involved with in the past include: the 2012 International Women’s Day all-female slam, which I organised and MC-d; Dear Glasgow, a 2012 play directed by David Greig at the Traverse, in which I performed other writers’ monologues about conflict and oppression; Making it Home for Book Week Scotland 2013, at which I led a discussion panel on the power of words to fight violence; and the Inky Fingers Revenge of the Dead Poets Slam, at which I dressed up as Edith Sitwell to act as slam judge. I've also chaired events for Just Festival, and have appeared three times at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. These are just a few memorable ones – please contact me for more info!
Photo by Neil Thomas Douglas