Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 390

Thursday 25 March 2021, 16:54

Loch Ordie

She is whirls, of
argent and raven,
she is pools of
unbroken eternity,

where jagged pike,
honed abyssal             arrows,
blank space.
Here is
Stygian subterfuge, an
onyx underworld, as

midnight anglers (from another world)
attempt to pierce the
primeval meniscus. It is
their calling
from the cave.

O, She is Female!, moulding
herself into lichened glacial
and insisting upon the
inundation of the
aisles- intellectual
inside this Man-poet.
she is, but deceptive: Muse-elemental.

October moon, lighted within by
blushing Tranquility, illuminates
tiny tragedies below, as forces
snagging on lines the necks of men,
dragged, snagged, under, as

pike gallop
across seething surfaces,
in their flight across
harrowed by ancient fear,
reaching far beyond

Garry Stanton

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map *Global for #StAnza21*: poem no. 389

Wednesday 24 March 2021, 18:19

Waking Up in San Francisco

Dawn cracks open morning,
streaks peach over night’s fading navy.
Out of the half-light, the Nightingale House
looms, gothic and ghostly.  No-one knows
what lies behind the closed blinds.

On the street below a lone car
prowls over unseen speed pillows
dips towards downtown.
Headlights stalk shadows
along apartment walls.

Far above the horizon,
the sky pales to washed-out denim.
Tree-lined hilltops
promise forest trails
among Giant Redwoods.

In the distance, the city stirs.
Trams rattle down Market Street,
tinny bells echoing in the crisp air.
The sun hesitates behind clouds
before a sudden downpour.

Angela Blacklock-Brown

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map *Global for #StAnza21*: poem no. 388

Tuesday 23 March 2021, 11:47

Grianclach – Sun Stone
Midwinter solstice at Newgrange, Ireland 2020 

Old bones sleep in frost,
waiting for the turn,
the clockwork
tick-tock-tilt of the earth. 

Stone cold sunbathed,
a dagger of light
prying open winter
a precious chink. 

Letting in that sharp edge
of hope, a lilt
swelling the womb. 

Beat of wings
against the heart’s windowpane.
Fleeting breath, a promise,
air and warmth,
voices unfiltered. 

To reach out,
to touch and not draw back
like the beam
tracing the dusty floor. 

Gerry Stewart

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

A ‘visit’ from the Edinburgh Literary Salon

Friday 19 March 2021, 14:07

Our final guest editors, the Edinburgh Literary Salon share some of their highlights of the festival -- many of which you can enjoy in our Events Archive until 31 March!

When we, at the Edinburgh Literary Salon, took tentative steps into staging our monthly meetings (usually held in an upstairs room in a central Edinburgh bar) online, we didn’t realise what a task it would be. Choosing the best ‘virtual’ platform, attracting an audience, and being au fait enough with technology to cope with glitches: this was the very definition of ‘learning curve.’

StAnza was the last arts festival we attended in 2020 before the world locked down. It gave them a year to prepare for the possibility of holding online events in 2021. Audiences have got the hang of ‘zooming’ and given what we’ve all been though, people make allowances if things are silky-smooth.

Yet it must be said that StAnza has been ahead of this curve for some time, providing online content, finding ways of reaching out across the globe, and with ever-creative presentations. There’s something about poetry that allows, or even encourages innovation. There’s also something about the ethos of StAnza that embraces equality, diversity and inclusion. This year’s festival was destined to be different, but no less exciting and embracing than usual.

Our first delve into the programme was the YouTube channel where there was more than just a tease for the week to come. Besides the early rounds of the Poetry Slam, there were several amusing videos of StAnza volunteers pointing out that we’re spared the trek to St Andrews, dodging the rain while darting between events, and awkward conversations in the queues for the loos. All the same, that sense of excitement (and slightly silly humour) was there; a bitter-sweet reminder that we would miss the special ‘atmosphere’ the place brings to StAnza.

But as Jackie Kay once said, StAnza is a place called poetry. Poetry, in all its richness and variety, was on display in the Festival Launch Extravaganza. This was more-than just a taster of what was to come – it was a feast. We saw Courtney Conrad, Guest Poet at our January Salon (courtesy of StAnza) and another friend of the Literary Salon, Russell Jones – both had events we would want to drop into.

We were reminded of online exhibitions, plus illustrated poetry, music, and how translation and international elements are key to StAnza. Parallels, contrasts, and connections exist, and even though we’re in lockdown (“Bugger,” said Jane Longhurst from the 40th Parallel in Tasmania!) we are nonetheless a ‘virtual poetry community.’ Most important is that much is still available online to enjoy for the rest of March – we will certainly be re-visiting the virtual riches of 2021.

Another advantage of StAnza online is the option to dip into events during the working day, at breakfast, morning break, lunch-hour, or tea. On Monday lunchtime Marina Kazakova gave a fascinating talk on ‘symphonic poetry’, exploring the link between music, poetry, and film. At Meet the Artists on Wednesday we were treated to a diversity of tongues from our own isles, connecting the languages of Welsh, Irish and Scottish Gaelic. Although internet connectivity provided challenges for some participants, this zoom-conversation led by Peter Mackay/Padraig MacAoidh fell together very well.

Poetry Centre Stage events often showcase contrasting poets and styles. On Wednesday, Polish poet Adam Zagajewski gave a no-frills reading that put his poetry in the spotlight. Conversely, Edinburgh’s Russell Jones pulled out all the stops, divulging poetry’s relation and place in sci-fi, and through comics, and illustration – all making this a varied and vibrant presentation. As Russell said, crossing genres seemed to fit with this year’s theme of crossing borders, finding new ways of reaching audiences.

Sticking with Edinburgh poets, while being transported to the Fife Coastal Path (and sometimes, beyond), the Thursday lunchtime Poetry Walk was led by Helen Boden. While locked down ‘beyond Edinburgh’ in her Pentlands home, Helen put together a selection of words and pictures that certainly whetted the walkers appetite for post-restriction days.

Earlier that morning, the Past & Present event was given by poets well-known to Edinburgh. Rob A Mackenzie’s deadpan performance of his own poetry hides an often wicked humour, and his presentation of the work of Miroslav Holub contained these elements, as well as a fascinating insight into a poet who deftly combined science, language, and darkly comic twists.

Helena Nelson’s contrasting delivery nevertheless demonstrated the importance of ‘light’ humour in poetry, shown through the (sometimes overlooked) verse of Ruth Pitter. With a glint in her eye, Helena kept us waiting right til the end before reciting Pitter’s cheeky poem, 'The Rude Potato'. One to re-watch before the end of March.

Friday Night ended our week at StAnza with Risk a Verse, the open-mic which not only ran very smoothly, ably hosted by Samuel Tongue, but featured some of our own December 2020 open-mic participants. While Zoom doesn’t quite hold the atmosphere of such an event (silent applause takes some getting used to) it was a lovely way to spend an evening tucked up on the sofa with a glass of wine, with still a whole weekend of events left to enjoy.

We’d like to thank Eleanor and Annie for their support of the Edinburgh Literary Salon. Our next meeting, on the 30th of March, features poetry, and storytelling, and as always is free to attend.



Categories: News

Scottish BAME Writers Network

Thursday 18 March 2021, 18:32

Our Guest Editors, the Scottish BAME Writers Network, flag up some of the highlights of their programme.

The Scottish BAME Writers Network (SBWN) is an advocacy group that aims to connect Scottish BAME writers with the wider literary sector in Scotland.

Andrés Ordorica reading into a microphoneSBWN was co-founded by Alycia Pirmohamed and Jay G Ying in 2018, who were joined by Andrés Nicolás Ordorica and Jeda Pearl Lewis in 2019, and by Dean Atta and Bhavika Govil in 2020. Alycia, Jay and Jeda appeared at StAnza 2020 and Andrés and Nat Raha, another SBWN member, are on this year’s StAnza programme.

SBWN is made up of writers, poets, publishers, editors, journalists, booksellers, bibliophiles, and is open to anyone seeking community with other Black and POC creatives living and from Scotland. Partners include Scottish PEN, Literature Alliance Scotland, National Library of Scotland, and Books from Scotland to name a few.

Poetry and performance

Poetry and performance are vital components of much of SBWN’s programming. Below are just some of the few programmes we have led on which give a flavour of the diversity of our writers.

SBWN Spoken Word Night

In mid-February, we hosted our first public reading of 2021. SBWN Spoken Word Night was curated and hosted by Courtney Stoddart as part of a two-month long poetry and performance development programme. The performers included Nasim Rebecca Asl, Sabrina Latif, Clementine E. Burnley, Wendy Law, Kamala Santos, Bee Asha and Andrew ‘Ace’ Bamusi. The event is still available to watch on YouTube.

2020 Mixtape

For those interested in poetry, we also recommend exploring our ‘2020 Mixtape: Writers of Colour Audio Anthology’, which launched in late 2020 to celebrate the work produced within the Writers of Colour Writing Group, led by Hannah Lavery. This audio anthology was the second anthology produced by the network.

This group began in February 2019 as a monthly writers group for Black writers and writers of colour. During 2020 Hannah ran it online weekly as a response to global events, including the Covid-19 pandemic and heightened awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement.


For those interested in reading more work by members of our community, you can purchase ‘Ceremony’ published by Tapsalteerie Press. Produced in 2019, this anthology of poetry and prose is the result of many in-person workshops where writers of colour met to develop their craft as a community.

Our programming

Due to Covid-19, SBWN has pivoted all of our programming online. This includes workshops, masterclasses, and live events. In addition to writer development opportunities, we also manage an ongoing blog series. Guest bloggers are invited to pitch ideas three times a year to feature on our dynamic blog which shares experiences, thoughts, and musings about a writer’s life in Scotland.


In celebration of LGBT History Month 2021, we commissioned Sanjay Lago, Mae Diansangu, Etzali Hernández, Sarya Wu, and Clementine E Burnley to share reflections on their personal histories and experiences as part of the LGBTQ+ community. The result is a stunning array of poetry, song, and experimental essays. These reflections are offered as both text and audio pieces which can be accessed here on our blog.


SBWN hosts numerous online writing workshops throughout the year. Recent workshops explored ‘Decolonizing Style’ by Jessie Widner and writing diverse characters with empathy by Kritika Narula. We will announce our spring and summer programming in mid to late March.

Community groups

During Black History Month 2020, we launched the Scottish Black Writers Group, facilitated by writer Dean Atta in association with Scottish PEN. It is a monthly meetup open to writers across the UK and Ireland who are Black/from the African diaspora, including people of mixed heritage.

Scottish Black Writers Group is a space to meet, chat, network and talk about the writing life. Writers both published and unpublished are welcome to join the group. The next meeting will feature Patrice Lawrence in conversation with the group on March 18th – booking information can be found here

You can find out more information about our programming by exploring our website or by signing up to our monthly newsletter.

You can connect with the Scottish BAME Writers Network via our website, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or by signing up to our newsletter.

Categories: News

Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 387

Thursday 18 March 2021, 17:44

Lewis Chessmen

Geama Toiseachaidh

Margaret, the Adroit, weeps
Over the slaughtered Walrus King
and pays homage by spellbinding
her warriors
they put to sea, but flounder
to rest for centuries
on Camas Uig beach
A cow finds them

Geama Meachan

Battles rage
Carved in Norway or Iceland?
British Museum v. Museum of Scotland?
Struggle won by the “Museum of the World”
and lent back to a defeated nation
as “Ambassadors of Scotland”

Geama Deireadh

In a foostie drawer in an Edinburgh home
Beserker is found, wild eyed, biting his shield,
bought for a quid,
sold for a million
sleekit and deceitful
he conceals Check,
threatens a Kingdom
by lying to a Queen

Siobhan Walsh

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map
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