In 2006 I attended a couple of Arvon courses, in June at Moniack Mhor in Writing for Children which was my principal interest at the time. This was with Mhairi Hedderwick and Cathy McPhail. In July I went to The Hurst in Shropshire and indulged in Travel Writing with Rory McLean and Miranda France.
Between 2009 and 2011 I was really privileged to work with children in Primary One to Primary Five across schools in East Lothian, freelancing with East Lothian Council Arts Service. The work was part of the Curriculum for Excellence, and designed to give the children a different learning experience to formal teaching by having an artist delivering poetry workshops during which the children achieved four learning outcomes. The children produced some amazing work.
One child inspired me to write the following poem. She was reluctant to participate in the poetry workshop; I encouraged her to draw a picture into which she might later put words.
The northern light paled her small face
as she stared at the Arctic wilderness
that stretched before her
and stilled her hand.
All around sea lions barked
and clapped their flippers
at the great sounds they made
eager to make more.
The wind carried her hurt voice
to a distant polar bear
who slipped across the floes
to crouch beside her.
His breath shrouded her head
and she inhaled a power
that cracked the ice
and melted a spark into her hazel eyes.
Her fingers brimmed with colour
and caused an Aurora Borealis
that crackled and danced a path
into her darkness till her story unfroze.
She traced the footsteps of the polar bear
to the edge of an iceberg where she grew a castle
frilled with trees and studded with flowers
guarded by rabbits and blades of grass.
And on the ramparts –
This poem won 3rd prize in Thynks Publication ‘A Little Book Of Healing’.
In the early days I had several poems published, including in diaries on two occasions. In 2011 I went to Chateau Ventenac and spent a week on a poetry course with Pascale Petit www.pascalepetit.co.uk/. It was during this course I was distracted by the deadline for a poem which led to https://vimeo.com/49789591. This poem has subsequently been published in Eiks an Eins here www.lallans.co.uk/pdfs/eiksanens02.pdf as well as numerous other websites, posted by Alastair Cook who was commissioned by northlightarts.org.uk/ to make the FilmPoem. The Herrin Trail was long-listed for the McCash/Herald Poetry Prize in 2011.
A number of my poems have also been published in anthologies.