It is good to keep an open mind, especially when it involves local history. This is cool, and something I have not done before; that is, a song ‘to order’, (and about religion and war, sort of…)Read More
When I was first approached in the summer by Hannah Lavery to be an Artist in Residence with CoastWord, I was delighted and honoured. I had performed at CoastWord a couple of years ago with our band GOL and screened some of my short films. The evening had such a great atmosphere and I remember how the audience danced with such wild abandon to the music, showing us the true spirit of Dunbar!Read More
I am re-making (finishing?) a xmas song I started in 2005. It’s just about finishedRead More
It was on Friday the 21st June in the beautiful Backlands Community Garden that we gathered with film maker Roxana Vilk and with much laughter and despite the rain and famous Dunbar wind made a film to celebrate our first anthology, Nourish Me, Sister.Read More
Five Years ago from behind my double buggy, I rushed out a programme entry for an event for Dunbar’s Civic Week. ‘Keeping Mum’ a Writing Mums’ Workshop. I arranged a creche. Roped in my good friend, the poet Alice Mitchell, to help me run the workshop and a few weeks later in a room in Dunbar Library we waited, with pens and paper, writing exercises and cake, lots of cake.Read More
The Corporation Pond
‘The freezer’; the open-air pool
refreshed by the North Sea with each high tide,
& relished as the coldest swim in BritainRead More
CoastWord Festival began as an idea at the school gates. As the festival has grown over the years, the innovative mothers who thought it would be grand to have a ‘Wee Festival of Words’ in Dunbar have developed their own writing in a group, called ‘Writing Mums’.Read More
On my last visit to Dunbar, it was time to get immersed - spend a few days in the same place and let red sandstone and a bracing breeze become the norm!Read More
In my quest to discover the stories Dunbar is telling me I created some Found Poetry. Found Poetry takes words from one source and reuses them in a new way. For my source I chose an edition of the East Lothian Courier.Read More
The dust, joy, hangovers and suntans have settled from CoastWord 2016, but the memories are still resonating. What an absolute joy that was. What a privilege and an honour to have been part of it.Read More
How do you get to know a place without actually visiting it? Surely, it’s not possible. Because how could you possibly get the sense of an environment without first meeting the people that live and work there? Patrick Geddes was pretty succinct about that idea some time ago.
So here’s another question - how can you possibly try to understand what a place was like in a time that is long gone? Because you can’t visit that. How do you get a sense of how people were feeling? How they were thinking? What was important to them?Read More
Walking round the town of Dunbar I find:
serpents with forked tails and green scales that flicker tongues at my ankles.Read More
Scotland's north and west coasts are internationally renowned and revered. So much so, that their spectacular sea lochs, long white sands, dramatic cliffs and idyllic islands have become iconic symbols of the country's coast.Read More
I wrote my first poem in 24 years at CoastWord, in Claire Askew’s ‘Introduction to Poetry’ workshop and I think it is a pretty good start. I almost didn’t make it along, I signed up to the workshop on a bit of a whim, but my childcare fell through when my sister was stranded in St Louis, and the doubts about my poetry writing talents sown by my second year English teacher were still enough that I was quite prepared to miss out. Until the lovely Lynn, my fellow writing mum and one of two possible future inlaws (if you believe my 5 year old daughter) stepped in and added another layer of madness to her already hectic day.Read More
So the idea is to draw a circle on a map of Dunbar-maybe around the base of a wine glass- and follow the line as closely as possible in the real world,wandering along with no other aim than to stop every now and then to gaze about and hopefully see my surroundings in new ways; to find the stories that Dunbar wants to tell me.
Following the line will force me to leave my usual route and to get off the beaten track.Read More
CoastWord weekend kicks off with mince and tatties at the Ridge Café. I eat as I browse an East Lothian Courier and stumble upon a double-page spread about the festival: ‘Stories poems and songs to hold center stage for 3 days’, alongside a photo of my own face gazing back at me.
An auspicious start.
I grew up in a small seaside town in Northern Ireland. From my bedroom window, as a child, and then in another house as a teenager, but always with the same view, I could see the Irish Sea from my window. On clear days, the Isle of Man, and at night, the lights of Portpatrick.Read More
Since my last blog in January, I've been thinking about a number of things, and wondering if the strands could be brought together during this residency. I think that they can. In fact, I'm excited to think that they can. Something is brewing. Something noisy, guttural, stomping, stamping and good. Anyone want to come and play?Read More
Morning at the sea. Heat, blue. That rank, rich smell of seaweed, iodine, and salt. And a heron. Always, herons.
These are my notes from last year’s Coastword Festival, wandering down from the Dunmuir Hotel on a scorching May morning in 2015, following a riotous circus of words and music at Words To The Beat the previous evening (Michael Pedersen, Kirsty Law, Catherine Simpson, Davy Henderson and more in attendance). Eight months on, I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be working in Dunbar as Coastword’s Writer In Residence January to May 2016, working towards a body of work that will be presented at this year’s Festival.