I am a poet and non-fiction writer living in a fishing village on the east coast of Scotland. My book Scotland: A Literary Guide for Travellers is a mix of travel writing and literary history, and a meditation on how writers respond to the places they live in, visit, or are inspired by. I am currently working on a collection of poetry which explores the intersections between ecology, geology, and human culture. The collection includes a long poem which contains a translation of an eighteenth-century Gaelic poem about a mountain and its population of red deer; my poem also includes sections that draw from contemporary ecological field studies, the politics of land ownership, gamekeeping, Darwin, and bagpipe music.
Writing awards include first place in the Wigtown Poetry Competition (2016), a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award (2010), the Robert McLellan Poetry Award (2009) and second place in the Baker Poetry Prize (2013). I’ve held a writing residency at Outlandia Field Station (a treehouse studio near Fort William) and a Scottish Book Trust residency at Cove Park in Argyll. My poems have been widely published in journals and anthologies including Dark Mountain, The Compass Magazine, Zoomorphic, The Scores and Corbel Stone Press’s Contemporary Poetry Series. I also review books for publications including the New Welsh Review.
I have an MLitt in Creative Writing and a PhD in English Literature from the University of St Andrews. My PhD explored representations of landscapes in contemporary poetry and I’ve published several articles and book chapters based on this research.
Since 2010 I’ve tutored on the Creative Writing Summer Programme at the University of St Andrews, and lead a number of literature and creative writing courses for the university’s community education programme. I’ve also tutored undergraduates on subjects ranging from sixteenth-century sonnets to contemporary fiction, poetry and film.
Creative Writing is a really exciting subject to teach – I love the diversity of ideas, styles and experiences that come through in people’s work. I think it’s important for writers to read as widely as possible, and I’m particularly interested in poetry, fiction and non-fiction: at the moment the writers who make me want to write include Alice Munro, Jorie Graham and John McPhee.