Monthly Archives: March 2016

Best Scottish Poems of 2015: A Response

Update: there’s a great discussion going around this post where I linked it on my Facebook artist page – check it out here and please do join in! -K


Yesterday the Scottish Poetry Library released its annual list of the Best Scottish Poems of 2015, a selection curated this year by novelist and poet Ken MacLeod. It is a fine list containing a variety of excellent pieces, and my hearty congratulations go out to each poet named there. In no way in what follows do I mean to question the merit of these excellent poems, or MacLeod’s judgment in choosing them. However, upon reading through the selections this year I was disappointed to see that not a single performance-based poem was selected, and reading MacLeod’s essay accompanying his selections it became clear that only text-based, print-published poems were considered in the pool for selection. This frustrated me because I feel that this selection method passes over the rich offerings in performance-based poetry produced over the last year in Scotland, and reflects a blind spot towards one of Scotland’s richest literary traditions. In this post I will address why this is frustrating to me and encourage that the pool might be widened in future years.


A wee disclaimer: I’m writing this with the utmost love for the SPL. It’s my favourite haven in Edinburgh and I think the folks there do wonderful work encouraging and supporting poets and lovers of poetry. I also think the SPL usually works very hard to publicise and support all sorts of poetry across Scotland, so this seems more a rare instance of oversight for them than symptomatic of bad programming (more on all the great work they do later).

Continue reading


New poetry video: “Dear”

Hi, everyone! A bit of a more personal post today. This year Loud Poets is working with the great folks at Fathers Network Scotland to make poetry about dads and widen the conversation about contemporary fatherhood. In January I filmed a poetry video and interview with them about my experience of being a donor-conceived child. I’ve performed this piece quite a lot to live audiences, but I’ve been hesitant in the past to put it online, because it’s really important to me that I not invade the privacy of my family; it’s one thing to be a confessional artist who’s comfortable sharing my personal life with strangers, but I never want that sharing to backfire and to hurt those I love. (I’ve written about the strange and shifting boundaries of being a confessional artist in the digital age here and here).

But—with my family’s blessing—today I’m sharing that poem and interview. One of the reasons I’m putting it online is to celebrate my father, in all his goofy, stubborn glory. Dad, I love you lots; thanks for being gracious and allowing me to share our story.

Another reason I’m sharing this is because we so rarely talk about donor conception, or other kinds of assisted fertility, other than in awkward comedies. And it is funny, in many ways; I don’t take the circumstances of my birth too seriously in part because they are a bit ridiculous. But for many donor-conceived kids, the circumstances of their conception DO matter, massively, and these kids don’t really have platforms through which to talk about it. The huge diversity of ways people are made and shaped nowadays is, I think, something that deserves a little more visibility, and a lot more acceptance.

Thank you so much to the Fathers Network for making this video, and for all the important work you do to support gender equality starting in the family. Also thanks to the Scottish Poetry Library for letting us film in your beautiful space. To learn more about donor conception, check out the resources provided by the Donor Conception Network. Hope you enjoy the video, and have a great weekend!

StAnza 2016: Reflections

I was delighted to spend this past weekend performing and volunteering at the wonderful international festival for poetry in St. Andrews, StAnza. It was my second time attending the festival, and I had an incredible weekend of hearing/watching/reading/making/performing poetry, chatting with other poets and organisers, and a huge amount of stimulus and inspiration. My head is buzzing with ideas that need out! So here I’ll share some of my reflections from the festival. There are lots of other folks blogging about their experiences as well – check out Carly Brown’s posts as the StAnza in-house blogger here and Dave Coates’ reviews on his (awesome) website, here. You can also search the #StAnza16 Twitter hashtag or check out the @StAnzaPoetry Twitter feed to see the live-tweeting from the weekend.

Kevin and me after our Poetry Cafe show with our friend Tracey Rosenberg, who's in charge of the bookstalls at the festival.

Kevin Mclean and me after our Poetry Cafe show with our friend Tracey Rosenberg, who’s in charge of the bookstalls at the festival.

The packed house at Five O'Clock Verse on Friday.

The packed house at Five O’Clock Verse on Friday.

Continue reading