In 2004 I established Colon : Press and published my first collection of poetry, Reclamation Marks. After the release of this collection, I started work on new material, and then got drawn into the performance poetry and poetry slam scene in Edinburgh. I won the Big Word Slam in Edinburgh in March 2006, was on the winning team (Scotland) at the Three Nations Slam at the Bristol Old Vic in September 2006 (with Jenny Lindsay, Bram Gieben, and Milton Balgoni) and was the Scottish Poetry Slam Champion after winning the inaugural Slam Championships in March 2008 as part of the Aye Write festival. You can read a review of it here:
Whilst continuing to develop new work and perform at venues across central Scotland, I was compiling a new collection under the working title “Everyday Things”. Then an idea got under my skin that I couldn’t shake, which was to release the collection as sleevenotes to be read whilst listening to an album of instrumental music. I formed a band, 56n, with my partner, Derek, and we began composing and writing. Everyday Things became “Sleevenotes”.
Delays and actual life delayed the release of this work, which we were quite pleased about. It allowed the piece to mature and its identity strengthened. Poems were matched with particular tracks, and we experimented with the idea of “remixing” the music by reading a different poem to it. It isn’t an exact science, but we both felt that it helped to draw out both sympathetic and contrasting themes between the words and the music. We finally released Sleevenotes on 24th February 2014.
After the release of Sleevenotes and two public performances of poems set to music from the album (at the Stanza poetry festival and at an evening performance at the National Library of Scotland) I spent a year developing a new work as part of my professional life as a librarian at the National Library of Scotland. This work became The Joy of Spines – a celebration of the Library’s legal deposit collection. It has been performed over twenty times since at numerous venues, enjoyed by over 1,500 people to date. It ran for a week in the 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where it received two 4-star reviews.
The 150th anniversary of the birth of Sibelius brought me back to poetry, and I began work on a collection of poems in response to Sibelius’ major works. This resulted in a new collection called Sfaari (the Finnish word for sphere). It was published on 21st June 2018.