Author details

Katherine McMahon


Katherine McMahon will not be available for Live Literature sessions from Autumn 2017-Summer 2018 and will not be based in Scotland during this time.  


I'm a performance poet living and working in Edinburgh. I grew up in Yorkshire, but have been living in Scotland since 2007, when I arrived to study Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh. My performance career started in and around Edinburgh's literary open mic scene, and I helped to run spoken word programme Inky Fingers from 2011 – 2013. I've performed professionally across the UK, from pubs to festivals to one glorious night with a full orchestra and a specially written score. I’ve also run a wide range of workshops, projects, and weird and wonderful events. My first pamphlet, Treasure in the History of Things, was published by Stewed Rhubarb Press and was accompanied by an album in collaboration with sound designer Fiona Keenan. I've also worked in theatres, a cinema, a library, and for LGBT and mental health charities. When I'm not writing, reading, or performing, I like baking elaborate desserts, swimming in unlikely places, and growing things.

About writer's work

My poetry is both personal and political, often exploring themes of identity and belonging. My current work explores feminist and queer ideas of home and the body. This work is part of my passion for using spoken word to build a more just, kinder world through understanding, community and solidarity.

For me, poetry is about communication, connection, and understanding. I have experience in community development work – I am particularly interested in creating arts workshops and events that contribute to building communities and which sensitively explore the social issues those communities may face, working collaboratively with the people involved. I am an experienced group facilitator and have worked for many years on creating safer spaces in a variety of contexts. I also enjoy creating unusual, interactive, fun events to inspire people to engage with reading, writing and performing in new and exciting ways.

As part of spoken word collective Inky Fingers, I ran open mics, workshops, and week-long Minifests. Inky was all about creating friendly spaces for people from all backgrounds to try performing words on stages, and to help each other out with feedback and support. We also ran special events, such as a Dead Poets Slam (compete as your favourite poet), a collaborative poetry map of Edinburgh, and two literary scavenger hunts that took players all around the city.

Since then, I've run a number of participatory arts projects designed to support people to start writing and to get on stage. Most recently, I worked with LGBT communities to create two collaborative anthologies – Naked Among Thistles, an anthology about mental wellebing, and The Gender Garden, an anthology of new writing from transgender, non-binary and intersex people. I facilitated writing workshops across the country and ran design sessions with contributors to put the book together. The launch events for both books saw many contributors take the stage for the first time.

I also I worked with older LGBT people to create creative resources for professionals working in support services, which included their stories and art as well as practical tips. The resources create a sense of deeper, emotional understanding for professionals who want to improve their inclusion of LGBT people.

Areas of expertise: poetry workshops for beginner writers; workshops exploring issues of politics, identity, and/or mental health; hosting and compering; creating and running events, including interactive arts activities; creating collaborative publications and resources with communities.

Websites featuring the author

Katherine's WebsiteScottish Poetry Library ProfilePoem and interview on IndiefeedNaked Among ThistlesSpeak Out Project Impact ReportThe Gender Garden

Current events and projects

I am available for performances, readings, residencies, workshops, participatory projects, and interactive activities and events.

As well as running general writing workshops, I've often used workshops to explore social and political issues. This works well in community settings, and in projects for third sector organisations – but any group would benefit from the confidence and communication that my workshops promote.

I have experience of running workshops for people with a wide variety of abilities and needs, and I am committed to accessibility and inclusion.  I am skilled in creating safer spaces, and I have a certificate in Mental Health First Aid, which supports me to run workshops on sensitive topics safely and supportively.

I have co-ordinated several complex participatory arts projects, and would love to take on residencies and other projects which provide the opportunity to collaborate with a group or community over a longer period of time. My projects and workshops are planned in collaboration with the communities and groups involved.

I also really enjoy creating unusual and innovative events to engage people in new ways – through fun, interactive activities and collaborative events. I would love to work with groups and organisations to come up with exciting plans which fit with the needs of their communities.

Other work


Across the UK, including: Rally and Broad, Eden Festival, Forget What You Heard (About Spoken Word), StAnza, National Library of Scotland, East Kilbride Arts Centre, Cumnock Music Festival and many more


Selected magazines and anthologies:

One poem in Gutter 14, 2016

Three poems in Out There, ed. Zoe Strachan, Freight Books, 2014

Three poems in Flicker and Spark, ed. Regie Cabico and Brittany Fonte, 2013

One poem in The List, ed. Kirsty Logan, 2013

One poem in Poems for Freedom, Freedom Press, 2013



The Gender Garden, LGBT Health and Wellbeing, 2016
Naked Among Thistles, Elephant Juice, 2014



Janice Forsyth Show, 2015

Indiefeed, ed. Wess Mongo Jolley, 2013


Other projects:

Two poems with Ben Tyson and Edinburgh Composers Orchestra, 2014

Recipe for a Universe, poetry installation at ANATOMY, 2012

Literary Scavenger Hunt (with Scottish Book Trust, Inky Fingers, and Rachel McCrum), 2012

Contact details

Photo credit: Chris Scott'


Local authority where they are based


Local authorities where they can work

Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles), Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow, Highland, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Moray, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Orkney, Other1, Outer Hebrides, Perth and Kinross, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, Shetland, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian

Age groups

Teens, Adults

LL funded


BRAW network


Author type

Performance Poet, Poet



Books written

Treasure in the History of Things cover

Treasure in the History of Things

Author(s): Katherine McMahon
This pamphlet of twelve poems explores themes of finding a voice, as a poet and as a friend, lover, and daughter.