I’m a performance poet, living and working in Edinburgh. I’ve written poems for as long as I can remember, but I started sharing them on stages around 2010, at places like Inky Fingers and Blind Poetics. Since then, I’ve built up my practice in writing and performing. I’m now a professional poet, with a wide range of feature performances under my belt – from music festivals to dive bars to one glorious night with a full orchestra and a specially-written score. My first pamphlet, Treasure in the History of Things, was published by Stewed Rhubarb Press, and was accompanied by an album, which was a collaboration with sound designer Fiona Keenan. The album was a real delight to make – we explored ways to capture the sense of the poems through sounds (and Fiona is incredibly inventive in capturing unusual noises!), and recorded some poems at different sites. You can listen to the album here.
I have also had the opportunity run some really exciting participatory arts programmes, as well as writing workshops in a number of settings. This is as important to me as my own creative practice: I believe that everyone should have support, access and inspiration to be creative. Many of those who don’t have these things right now are exactly the people whose voices are most important to hear – as well as the importance of creativity for its own sake, creating platforms where marginalised people can tell their stories creates understanding and solidarity in a world where we so often are divided by discrimination and bigotry. As a queer person, it has been incredibly important for me to both speak about my experiences, and to hear others speak about theirs. Andrea Gibson, a queer American poet, gifted me confidence that my words are worth saying.
I started organising spoken word programmes and events as part of the organising team for Inky Fingers from 2011-2013; this series of open mics, workshops, and Minifests, is 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 loads of weird and wonderful events, such as a Dead Poets Slam (come dressed as your favourite poet and perform their work), a collaborative poetry map of Edinburgh, and two literary scavenger hunts that took players all around the city. Inky Fingers was nominated for two Saboteur Awards.
After Inky Fingers, I brought participatory arts into my work at LGBT Health and Wellbeing, running a programme of workshops to support the production of Naked Among Thistles, an anthology of writing about LGBT+ identities and mental wellbeing which I edited alongside Alison Wren. The launch party for the book was probably the most proud I have ever been in my life.
My next job at LGBT Health involved supporting professionals who work in services for older people to be more inclusive of LGBT+ people. I worked with older LGBT+ people to create resources that included their stories and art, as well as practical tips. Having run loads of training over the course of the job, I can testify that the creative work was very popular, and created a sense of deeper, emotional understanding in a way that statistics don’t quite manage. This project won Equality Initiative of the Year at the inaugural Scottish LGBTI Awards in 2015.
I have also been expanding my skills into the realms of bibliotherapy. Bibliotherapy is simply writing and/or reading for wellbeing – not necessarily in a traditionally therapeutic sense (so you don’t have to be a therapist to do it), but simply finding ways to read and write that support mental health and wellbeing. I’ve found that there are not a huge number of writing workshops and programmes around that are simply about writing for its own sake, without an emphasis on feedback and improvement – and I think there are a lot of benefits for those who don’t want to take that route. This is something I’m particularly interested in exploring! I completed a Lapidus Scotland residential training course in September 2015, and I have experience of this approach through my work with LGBT Health.
Please feel welcome to contact me to discuss any aspect of my work – whether you’re looking for someone to collaborate with, to book for an event, or to commission to run a project or event!