Aileen Ballantyne

Aileen Ballantyne is a national newspaper journalist turned poet. Her investigative journalism for the Guardian has twice been commended in the British Press Awards. Her poetry has won a series of recent major awards, including the Mslexia Poetry Prize, Poetry on the Lake at Orta San Giulio, the Scots prize at the Wigtown Poetry Festival, and a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award. She has a PhD in Creative Writing and Modern Poetry from the University of Edinburgh, where she teaches English and Scottish Literature. Her first poetry collection, Taking Flight (Luath Press), explores flight in all its aspects, and commemorates the Lockerbie disaster in the voices of Lockerbie residents. Reviewing Taking Flight, the poet John Glenday said: Aileen Ballantyne has a rare and natural gift for language… her narratives tell us things we really need to know.

Aileen Ballantyne


Poetry Centre Stage »

Reading: Maria Stepanova with translator Sasha Dugdale, Aileen Ballantyne

Sat 13 March | 16:00 - 17:00 | FREE | StAnza Online


In the Garden
(For M)

You saw it today: you gazed
at the apple tree
s buds
like someone who never saw blossom
unfurl in the sunlight until now.

As light fades,
the blossoms a quiet silhouette.
I reach for your hand in the dark,

we lie on our backs
on the red tartan rug
we once used for picnics, 
watching the holes 
in the sky effervesce.
You tell me the night 
has the chilled almond
taste of champagne

and you ask
if Ill help you to die.

We have no desire
for the cold prefab-blue
of Zurich, or Switzerlands snow.

I move the old stereo close to the window,
put Fingals Cave on the turntable.
We can hear it quite loud  
in the shade of the trees
at the foot of our garden.
I pour you the dose
in a clear crystal glass
well-laced with Bruichladdich,
sit down on the grass
and hum every note alongside you,
until only I
am singing.

Aileen Ballantyne

From Taking Flight (Luath Press, 2019)