I am originally from Salford but moved to Scotland in 1992. I worked at the University of Dundee as a librarian and lecturer in research. I took an opportunity to retire early in 2020 to concentrate on writing.
I am a poet and have had three collections of poetry published, most recently The Saints Are Coming! (Blue Diode Publishing, 2020). I have a fourth collection Games Night due in 2023. In addition, I have edited or co-edited eleven other anthologies of poetry for a variety of publishers, often themed or focusing on a specific topic (movies and television, cycling, popular culture and other areas). Notable among these was Double Bill, selected by the late Clive James as one of his books of the year in 2014. I also co-edit several ongoing web-based poetry initiatives including New Boots and Pantisocracies (responding to political and social issues) and the Otwituaries blog (celebrating the death of public figures with short poems disseminated via social media).
I was appointed to the honorary post of Makar to the Federation of Writers Scotland which I held for the year of 2017. Since 2020 I have been co-editor of the long-running broadsheet Poetry Scotland which aims to give a writing platform to grassroots and emerging voices in poetry as well as more established names.
I am involved in several writing-related projects and activities where the focus is on facilitating creative writing. I lead therapeutic writing classes at the Maggie’s Centre in Kirkcaldy, supporting people who are living with cancer. I also run creative-writing classes for my local adult education cooperative in the Dundee/Perth area. I am on the committee of Lapidus Scotland, an organisation whose aim is to develop and deliver writing therapy for people with long-term health (including mental health) conditions.
I have been invited to lead workshops and activities by local writing groups and organisations. I have also given ‘masterclass’ creative-writing sessions at the Universities of Dundee and Stirling. I have
also been appointed as judge for local and national writing competitions including the National Galleries of Scotland’s Inspired? Get Writing! competition.
A major project which I am developing in 2023 is The Lonely Funeral Scotland. Based on an initiative in the Netherlands and Belgium, this involves poets contributing memorial poems for people who die but whose funerals are unattended. The initiative aims to use poetry to celebrate the lives of the invisible and forgotten people in society, raising awareness of loneliness and social isolation in modern society. It is being piloted in Dundee and Glasgow and I am co-leading the project alongside a funeral celebrant. If the initiative is a success, it is hoped that the template will be rolled out across all of Scotland.
I have been an RLF Fellow at the University of Stirling since September 2021.