I remember reading (in Jay Parini’s book The Art of Teaching, I believe) about how interesting it is that autumn, a time of nature’s decay, is seen as a time of new beginnings and fresh starts for so many students and teachers. Yet, for me, a student and a teacher, that’s exactly what autumn means. A new chapter. September for me means new stationary, a new group of students, a brand shiny new academic year.
This whole New Beginnings feeling is probably strengthened by the fact that I’ve actually moved cities. I’ll be living in Edinburgh for the final year of my PhD. I will miss Glasgow, of course, but I’m delighted to be here amidst the winding medieval streets, quaint bookshops and unbeatable castle views. I have a fondness for so many different cities, especially not-too-big, picturesque, historic ones (see: York, Florence, Boston), but Edinburgh might just be my favorite city in the world.
In addition to moving cities and recovering from the Fringe (so much sleep!!), I’ve been busy with lots of other things too. Here’s a wee wrap up of my September literary adventures.
I performed with my pals the Loud Poets over in Glasgow in mid-September at their event Loud Poets: Appetite for Destruction at Broadcast. Always great fun to perform my poems with The Loud Band and these poets always put on a fast-paced, fun, interactive show. I love performing with them.
I also had the opportunity to read at Glasgow Women’s Library for National Poetry Day at their Story Café event. I was joined by the other editors of Glasgow Women Poets Anthology (my fellow sub-editor, Cameo Marlatt, and our editor, Mairi Murphy) and we talked a little bit about the anthology, as well as sharing our own poetry. We’re really proud of the Glasgow Women Poets anthology, which we published last year, featuring writing by women writers with a connection to the city of Glasgow. It’s really special to work on a project that celebrates and elevates women’s voices. Plus, it’s also got a fantastic cover!
National Poetry Day was a big one for me because I ALSO had a reading over at the University of Glasgow where I was Commended in the Alastair Buchan Poetry Prize for my poem ‘Fisherman Knit.’ Congrats to all of the other commended poets and runners up, and congrats especially to the winner, my friend Daisy LaFarge, who has a pamphlet out now. Her winning poem knocked my socks off and I’d highly recommend having a look at her work!
My debut poetry pamphlet, GROWN UP POETRY NEEDS TO LEAVE ME ALONE, is now available to order online, with worldwide shipping, from the Loud Poets Etsy store. They’ve been selling like hotcakes so far which is amazing, so thank you to everyone who has bought a copy and I hope that you are enjoying them! Check out the listing here.
An extract from my poem ‘Texas, I Can’t Bring You to Parties Anymore’ will be published in Write to be Counted, a forthcoming anthology in support of human rights, with all the profits going to Pen International. They are launching on October 4th in London and Saturday October 14 in Cumbria. I might be along to read at the Cumbria launch, which is taking place in an Old Fire Station!
I started my second year teaching undergraduates at the University of Strathclyde. It’s an introductory Creative Writing class and basically goes over the building blocks of creating characters, setting the scene, building dramatic tension, all that good stuff. As a writer, I think it’s always useful to go over those fundamentals and I’m looking forward to another semester of teaching.
Next Thursday, October 5th, I’m performing at a ‘new material’ night in Partick in St Louis Cafe Bar, so will hopefully be debuting a new poem. Feel free to come along! Check out the event page here.
I’ll mainly be editing and redrafting my historical fiction novel in these next few months, which is daunting but also very exciting. For me, this entire academic year will really be about finishing up and submitting my Creative Writing PhD.
I’m also working concurrently on a short story collection…more on this later!
As I’m writing this post, it is also the first day of October, which is my FAVORITE MONTH. October means my birthday, Halloween, pumpkins, and occasional spiders in the flat (okay, that one isn’t really something to look forward to). You can guarantee that I will be watching Halloween movies, going on haunted tours of the city and generally embarrassing myself with my exuberance for this season. Just so you have an idea of how excited I get about Halloween, this is what’s on top of my bookcase already.
Happy October. I’m hoping that everyone is having a great start to the season.