This Impossible Rim…poem about centering oneself and toppling magic, Writer-in-Residence for Wigtown Book Festival 2016

Wigtown Book Festival Writer-in-Residence

This is one of a series of poems commissioned in response to the Spring Fling visual arts festival in Dumfries & Galloway in May 2016 – I’ve installed myself in-transit on the bus shuttle service that took folk around to visit these artists homes (and studios), and this is the first poem written in response to that experience. This Impossible Rim is inspired, in part, by my time spent on a potters wheel post-heartbreak, (thanks the once ‘Go Potty’ in Glasgow – nothing more cathartic than trying to centre yourself with clay) – and the professionals who spin their forms and dedicate their time and talent to working with the wheel. 

Wigtown Book Festival Writer-in-Residence

I made sure my keys could scratch the sky

What is winning anyway? About to participate in the BBC Fringe Slam. I really don’t like poetry competitions, but I really do like the opportunity to share with and connect to an audience. I am not so sure poetry fits the idea of a Gladiator, one we watch in an arena to spy our might (what we might be, what muscle we might have, what fierce warrior there is in us)…to see them wrestle with great and grand ideas and kill every other poet off with their mighty brilliance. I am not sure poetry breathes best when rallied into a ring like a sport in which we feel inspired pitting poem against poem, performer against performer. Most of the ‘slams’ I have been to seem to be less about the ideas or craft of the writing and more about what can immediately make an impression with clarity and ease: either a rabble-rouser or a comic piece will usually do the trick and fly past into a ‘final’. 
We compete too much, with compare too much: one facebook scroll and we feel ourselves tightening. Having said all that, I can’t wait to speak up. I enjoy connecting with people. And I am grateful for the opportunity…and that there is actually a venue like the ‘Pink Bubble’ in which inspiring and inspired people will congregate in the name of poetry, or take a peek in the name of curiosity. 
before I left…
“I checked the oven was locked,
I made sure my keys could scratch the sky
I knew my wallet was switched on
and all the perishables told why
they wouldn’t last…”

Re-boot the wonder, kick-start another ‘why’? Post-project poem



photo (1)


I love this poem – it made me question why we try, train, forge a path and hitch ourselves so beautifully to a purpose. Now that the project is over – and I am tucking mountains of paper-work into recycling, attempting to file away an experience, shelving the past, carving tomorrow into my aspirations – I am slumping slightly into that familiar groove  within which you need to reflect and (well, in this case) write an acquittal. Reflect and respond. Re-boot the wonder, kick start another why and fly onto the next page.

In all the work we’ve done it is easy to forget that you seldom know the ripples your tiny actions can roll along…and like a butterfly kiss between two cheeks – close, blind and smiling – the lashes can stoke some flame.


Les Murray’s little gift of a poem above inspired this video response, on the nature of winning:

We dig our heels into a photograph



The ephemeral poet squinting to etch this experience into memory…

and the somewhat tangible, queue-ticket printed-poetry souvenir:



“peeling layers of ochre, rust and bone dust

from an unlikely blue

blinking beauty in the face

stumbling, grateful, captivated”