My writing began in 2006 when I wanted to share the experiences I had had during my travels to see sailing ships during the tall ships races that are held each year. This book is on hold whilst I complete the story of me voyaging on a cargo ship accompanying the oldest surviving clipper ship in the world from Rotterdam to Adelaide, South Australia over the winter of 2013/14.
I also wanted to develop children's stories that I had written. A rejected children's story that lay smouldering in a drawer at home spurred me to turn it into script, and The Three Craws series was spawned.
Poetry became an unexpected pleasure, and I have had a high success rate of having them published. My first pamphlet is due in September 2017, with Red Squirrel Press.
Harps for me only existed in films and in orchestras until I saw Savourna Stevenson some years ago. I found out about the Edinburgh International Harp Festival and became a regular fan. I took it up in 2009 when my eldest daughter gave me the gift of a harp lesson. I play the small lever harp known as Celtic harp or clarsach.
One of Captain Bruce’s great-great-granddaughter invited me to the Australian Wooden Boat Festival which is held every two years in Hobart, Tasmania. I was so excited to be going back to Adelaide as my first port of call, especially as I was giving two talks on board City of Adelaide, on the weekend of 3 and 4 February. I was met at the airport by my lovely, generous hosts Ian and Jeanette, who are always very welcoming, fun and helpful, and friend Rosemary who was waving the Saltire.
I could hardly contain myself the next morning when we went to Port Adelaide to see the clipper ship. She is still sitting on barge Bradley, however a good amount of work is going on inside the hull, such as scraping off the old paint from the iron beams in the ‘tween deck and painting them with the original colour from 1864, planning out for replica 1st class cabins. New windows have been fitted into the stern where Captain Bruce’s cabin was, as well as a very smart new South Australia Coat of Arms.
It was such a thrill to have two fantastic musicians involved with the first talk. I had understood City of Adelaide‘s honorary piper, and Commander of Clan Ross in Australia would not be able to come along for the evening. As I immersed myself in the sights, smells and feel of the ship in the ‘tween deck where I was giving the talks, I heard the lilt of the pipes permeating through her planks. I rushed out and saw Des in finest regalia, playing the pipes. I was also hugely honoured that Adelaide-based international singer/harpist Siobhan Owen accompanied me on her clarsach (small lever harp) with my composition City of Adelaide : Farewell to Scotland whilst I read my poem City of Adelaide Bleeds before launching into my presentations to a well-attended audience.
I was lucky to meet Siobhan again in Edinburgh during the Festival Fringe in August 2017, when we repeated our performance on two evenings. https://siobhanowen.com/
This is our fifth year performing my play in Scots Language with plain English narration in The Globe Inn, Dumfries – Robert Burns’ favourite drinking hole in which he discussed and read poetry with friends. It’s a wee room full of interesting pictures and objects and a wonderful fireplace. The Poet’s chair stands in a corner and it’s lovely to sit on it and hope that some of his talent might be absorbed! We are delighted to be returning, and this year we have a special … a workshop on the script and music!
Come and hear what happens when The Three Craws leave their perch on Edinburgh Castle wall and fly south to Dumfries where the smell of haggis tempts them to the unthinkable, and they have to suffer the consequences. The Three Craws meet Tam O’Shanter and Meg escaping from the witch Nannie Dee and her coven, find some spooky writing on the windows of The Globe Inn and more!
The schedule is :
Saturday 20th January
1 pm – Performance in Rabbie’s Howff in The Globe Inn
2 – 3 pm – Workshop in the Bakers Oven
4 pm – Performance in Rabbie’s Howff in The Globe Inn
Sunday 21st January
Afternoon performances in Rabbie’s Howff, The Globe Inn, with musical interludes at –
The amazing East Lothian Library Service set up a programme for me to visit a library each day from Monday 27 November to Saturday 2 December, to meet people for a chat over a cuppa and biscuits, and to read a few poems from ‘Salt & Soil’. The exception was Thursday, when a group of P5s from Campie School, Musselburgh came to the library for my presentation on the voyage with clipper ship City of Adelaide over the winter of 2013/14. It’s so lovely to share that experience, and the pupils were absolutely brilliant.
On 7 October 2017, Coast Properties, North Berwick held an open day at Barnsness Lighthouse, Dunbar. It was the perfect chance to give The Three Craws An The Mysterious Licht At Sunny Dunbar another outing. It was great to have a large audience from youngsters to those with a few more years under their hats, all of whom appeared to enjoy the show.
I am very grateful to East Lothian Libraries Service for setting up a ‘Salt & Soil’ Book Tour during Book Week Scotland, 27 November – 3 December. During the week I shall be visiting several libraries who put in a request for a visit following an email communication from the Service.
A special request came from Musselburgh Library for a talk on my voyage with clipper ship City of Adelaide for a group of P5 pupils. I am so looking forward to giving them a presentation with images from the voyage.
I was so thrilled to have my East Lothian Launch of ‘Salt & Soil’ on 26 October 2017 in Hecla Gallery, Cockenzie House & Gardens, Edinburgh Road, Cockenzie. Over the last several years I’ve held events there, and attended a few too. I love the environment, there is so much to see with frequently changing exhibitions and craft items in the shop, and the folk that run it are friendly, welcoming and very helpful. Yvonne Murphy is involved with the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry which inspired the poem ‘Diaspora’ in the booklet. I brought 3 panels of the Diaspora Tapestry back from Adelaide when I went back there in May 2014 for clipper ship City of Adelaide‘s 150th birthday party. (see Category ‘City of Adelaide’ on my website.)
L-R Trevor Powell, former Chief of Port Adelaide Caledonian Society, Rosemary McKay who organised the stitchers around Adelaide, me, Hon. Piper for City of Adelaide, Des Ross, Commander of Clan Ross in Australia.
The room was packed to capacity for the launch. Some friends were there, as well as with new faces. I was already on my second print run, having sold most, and outsourced the remainder of the first batch.
This beautiful handcrafted desk later became my signing table.
I took along my clarsach and played my composition ‘City of Adelaide : Farewell to Scotland’ to start off the evening. I ended with accompanying myself on ‘The Herrin Trail’.
Edinburgh and Glasgow launches will be announced in the near future.
The Three Craws An The Mysterious Licht At Sunny Dunbar is No. 11 in my series of plays based on the crows sung about in the traditional Scots ditty ‘Three Craws Sat Upon A Wa’. I wrote the script in 2015 and it was first performed as part of Dunbar’s Coastword Festival of Words.
We were invited to perform in the brand new outdoor space within The Battery on Lamer Island, Victoria Harbour, Dunbar. We did not quite make being the first performers in the new space, but were close, as second.
The space is amazing, there’s an historical timeline in the path leading to the entrance. Once inside, there’s a wooden platform and seating, with the names of the Weather Forecast carved in. There are stainless steel cubes. Read …
We’re back! Each month at Hear Hare Here, we’ll be bringing you three of our favourite poetic voices in a cornucopia of verse, MCed by our very own bookseller and poetry lover Alice Tarbuck. Flee the darkening evenings and join us as we light up the night with words, with readings and performances from the glorious Freddie Alexander, the oh so lovely Janette Ayachi and a mystery guest to be announced! Pick up a glass of wine on arrival and, as no poetry night is complete without a raffle, take a chance of winning a blind date with a book…
Frederick “Freddie” Alexander is a writer and events organiser based in Edinburgh. Since 2013 he has been an organiser and host of the Inky Fingers Open Mic night, and has been an organiser of various other Edinburgh poetry nights. Freddie is a freelance writer for Broadway Baby, ScotsGay, and Flint & Pitch. He works for the National Library of Scotland.
Janette Ayachi is a Scottish-Algerian poet. She collaborates with artists, has been shortlisted for a few chewable accolades, and has performed her work on BBC radio, as well as at events across the UK. She is the author of poetry pamphlets Pauses at Zebra Crossings and A Choir of Ghosts, and a children’s chapter book The Mermaid, The Girl and The Gondola. She is currently working on a memoir titled Misdialing The Muses.
RITA BRADD is published since 2007 in a number of anthologies, and has read in many venues. In
2016 at StAnza – the Scottish International Poetry Festival held in St Andrew’s – her poem ‘City of
Adelaide Bleeds’ was a film installation.
‘Salt and Soil’ is Rita’s debut pamphlet, published in August 2017. Rita is completing her book on
her voyage to South Australia on a cargo ship with the oldest surviving clipper ship City of