Gerda Stevenson

Gerda Stevenson is a writer, actor, director and singer/songwriter. She works in theatre, television, radio, film, and opera, and has seen her writing widely published, staged and broadcast. She has read at literary festivals internationally, including in the Czech Republic, Trinidad and Italy. Gerda was nominated as Scots Singer of the Year for the MG Alba Trad Music Awards, and received a BAFTA Best Film Actress award for her role in Margaret Tait’s Blue Back Permanent. Her first poetry collection, If This Were Real (Smokestack Books), was published in Italian translation in 2017 by Edizioni Ensemble as Se Questo Fosse Vero. Her opera libretto (with composer Dee Isaacs), a contemporary retelling of Coleridge’s poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, was commissioned and performed by the University of Edinburgh in 2017. Her latest highly acclaimed poetry collection, QUINES: Poems in tribute to women of Scotland, appeared with Luath Press in 2018.

Photo: Anna Wiraszka


Five O’Clock Verses »

Reading: George Mario Angel Quintero, Gerda Stevenson

Fri 8 March | 17:00 - 18:00 | £6.50/£4.50 | Parliament Hall, South Street


Horsehead Nebula Speaks

Williamina Paton Fleming, astronomer, born Dundee, 1857, died Boston, USA, 1911; received numerous international honours, including the Guadalupe Almendaro medal from the Astronomical Society of Mexico for her discovery of new stars; her name was eliminated from Harvard’s list of astronomical discoveries, therefore denying her credit for discovering Horsehead Nebula.

There I am, bucking my head below Orion’s belt,
free rein in that constellation’s fiery dust,
riding the stellar waves for millennia, unnoticed, till
a woman with eyes like burning stars takes one look,
has me harnessed, measured, catalogued, and tamed.
I’m proud to be groomed with such exquisite care
by one who can do it all
a maid, she was,
at the professor’s kitchen sink, until he saw
her quiet gift for seeing light with a precision
that far outstripped his Harvard team of men;

and then, the men come in. I’m claimed
as their discovery, and named: ‘Grim Reaper,’
‘Black Knight of the chessboard,’ they say,
failing to notice I’m a mare.
They make me want to leap
from this photographic plate,
leave it miraculously blank,
and take her with me, my lady of the stars
who found me first – we’d race
the heavens together, gallop across light years,
stream through Zeta’s glittering rays, bareback,
all along the Hunter’s belt, from Mintaka to Alnitak.


Gerda Stevenson

From QUINES: Poems in tribute to women of Scotland (Luath, 2018)