Salt & Soil
My debut booklet of poems is mainly inspired by the coastline of East Lothian where I grew up, the Lammermuir Hills and Berwickshire. Some poems are in Scots, including my well-travelled poem The Herrin Trail.
This was shortlisted for the McCash/Herald prize in 2011; has been published in video; on interpretation boards complementing ‘The Creel Loaders’ sculpture in Dunbar by Gardner Molloy commemorating the women who carried herring over the hills from Dunbar to Lauder; on a banner celebrating the suffragette movement NOW 14-18 ‘100 Years 100 Banners’ programme; as ‘Sma Buiks’ by Poems-for-All in California; has been published in anthologies and newsletters, and has been set to music on clarsach (small lever harp). Other poems reflect nature, moments of memory, family, and the present.
No. of Pages: 26
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The Covid pandemic disrupted lives everywhere. I returned from my book launch on board clipper ship City of Adelaide https://ritabradd.com/clippershipcity-of-adelaide-carrick/ in late January 2020, just before it kicked off in the United Kingdom. Like many others, creativity fell by the wayside for well over a year.
In Autumn 2021 I was commissioned by North Light Arts to write a poem for COP26. My Name is Soil has taken off on a journey of its own too, like The Herrin Trail. Artist Natalie Taylor was commissioned by North Light Arts to carry out a series of workshops and events celebrating the importance of soil. Please do take a look at https://northlightarts.org.uk/ and look at the wonderful projects Natalie has organised. I have been very fortunate to stitch some little creatures onto the fabulous Keeper of the Soils Cape shown on the website.
A ceremony was held in Dunbar Battery to farewell a group making a pilgrimage from Dunbar to Glasgow for COP26. Artist Natalie Taylor had been commissioned by North Light Arts to
Here is link to an interview of me undertaken by Katie Revell https://northlightarts.org.uk/project/john-muir-fellowship/
and a further link to me reading My Name is Soil at an event in Glasgow, Dish the Dirt where a number of invited guests were given the opportunity to taste and compare a variety of foods grown in differing conditions – those grown with the artificial use of chemicals, and those grown naturally, organically. The difference in soil quality was striking, but more so was the flavour of the food. Just no comparison, with the naturally grown foods winning hands down. https://northlightarts.org.uk/world-congress-of-soil-science-2022/
For the exhibition in September 2022 in Dunbar Town House, Natalie took extracts from six poems that had been written as part of her project. What a thrill it is to have another poem being given the ‘off the page’ treatment, and to be honoured by Natalie’s beautiful, gentle artistic touch.
Here are the anthologies I am published in, with Salt & Soil.
I have been fortunate to have other poems published as postcards; in windows; on BBC radio and local community radio stations in Scotland and Adelaide, South Australia. I enjoy my poems being off the page.
The first four lines of ‘The Herrin Trail’ are carved in stones and set in the ground beside the interpretation board that contains the complete poem, near the sculpture by Gardner Molloy, ‘The Creel Loaders’ in Victoria Street, Dunbar.
The Creel Loaders sculpture arrives at Victoria Street, Dunbar
Site visit in September 2015, early progress on the stone
Salt & Soil has sold internationally, and is now in its fourth print-run.
Some of my most delightful inclusions
The Herrin Trail, written in Scots has appeared in many forms. In grand company here on the short-list Herald/McCash poetry prize in 2011.
Here it is on the stunning banner created by Dunbar Dementia Carers Support Group designed by Fiona Hermse of Luminate. I had visited this wonderful, talented and fun group on several occasions to share my poetry and harp music. It is such an honour to have my poem included on their banner that was commissioned by Artichoke 14-18 NOW WW1 Centenary Art Commissions 100 Years 100 Banners PROCESSIONS. Some of us marched in Edinburgh on 10 June 2018 along with thousands and thousands of others marking the anniversary of women gaining the vote.
Here is a link to the entry for StAnza 2016, the Scottish International Poetry Festival where I played clarsach (small lever harp) at the opening ceremony, and was fortunate to have City of Adelaide Bleeds featured on a loop.
Further information https://stanzapoetry.org/?s=Rita+Bradd
My poem Sunny Dunbar was published on their poetry map of Scotland a few years ago. http://stanzapoetry.org/blog/poetry-map-scotland-poem-no-141-dunbar
- 18 May – Opening Event – Coastword Festival – Launch of Salt & Soil, Dunmuir Hotel, Dunbar. £5 entry. Tickets available from https://www.coastword.co.uk/coastword-2018/salt-and-soil
- 10 May – Craigmillar Thistle Scribblers Anthology Launch
- 29 April – Vibrant Musselburgh
- Blackwell’s Bookshop stocks ‘Salt & Soil’ – in grand company here, too, wi ‘oor Rabbie’!
- 17 February – World Community Arts Day, Craigmillar Library, Edinburgh
- 13 February – Vespers 15, 7.30pm, Serenity Cafe, Edinburgh
- 03 February – Platform Poetry at Ladybank, Fife – 7pm – includes music on clarsach (small lever harp)
- 12 December – Poetry Pamphlet Fair – National Library of Scotland – 6pm
- 06 December – Soft Launch, 7pm – From the Horse’s Mouth, Summerhall, Edinburgh
Salt & Soil Library Tour, East Lothian, 2017
- 2 December – 11.00am – 12pm – Gullane Library
- 1 December – 2.30 – 3.30pm – Ormiston Library
- 30 November – 2.00 – 3.00pm – Musselburgh Library (closed event for City of Adelaide presentation)
- 29 November – 2.00 – 3.00pm – Dunbar Library
- 28 November – 2.30 – 3.30pm – Longniddry Library
- 27 November – 2.30 – 3.30pm – Port Seton Library
- 16 November – Fisherrow Open Night – 7pm – Fisherrow Centre, Musselburgh: I’ll be playing clarsach as folk arrive and reading from ‘Salt & Soil’
- 23 November – ‘This is it!’ Literary Cabaret – 7-8.30pm – Central Hall, West Tollcross, Edinburgh – Poetry Readings and booklet sales
I was delighted to be asked to assist with judging Craigmillar Writers Group poetry contest. The poem below is by Billy McKirdy. Although not a winner, I put it forward as for me it truly captured the essence of gorse, known as ‘whins’ in Scotland. Thanks to Billy for allowing me to publish it here.
A yellow green gorse
Clothing and dressing the slopes
A sight, a haven
Thick, deep and densely
Protecting, embracing life
Within it’s cover
A perfume, so sweet
Tantalising and lovely
Pleasing the senses
Even in fiery death
It lives on again
We see it and smile
Its beauty and its presence
This yellow green gorse
I was really privileged to be asked my Alastair Cook to run a Filmpoem poetry workshop for children, commissioned by North Light Arts. The group of children and I walked around Victoria harbour Dunbar and environs, seeking inspiration from various finds, such as pebbles, shells, crab nippers, seaweed, berries, birds. The children wrote words onto strips of paper they took back to the Town House where they composed their poems from their cache, then read them as they were video-ed. Unfortunately the film seems to no longer be available. http://filmpoem.com/filmpoem-childrens-workshop/