As the English half of Coin-Operated Press, perhaps it is a little strange that I am the one writing about Scottish poetry! I moved up here from Manchester about 5 years ago now, after falling in love with Edinburgh from the Fringe festivals of my teenaged years. I studied English Literature in Wales, travelled around the world teaching English, and then I came up here to do my Masters in Arts Management…then I fell in love with a Scottish girl and decided to stay! I’m up in Dundee now, and I always look forward to getting the train down to Edinburgh to meet Chloe for our meetings – often centred around delicious vegan food at Paradise Palms and a wander around comic book stores and the vintage clothes shops on the Grassmarket.
Since finishing my undergrad degree, I sort of lost the knack of writing and reading for pleasure. Uni had been so full-on I wanted a break from it. And then I suppose I got swept up traveling, delving into music and theatre, and then I was once again buried in my studies.
Since moving up to Dundee and leaving my theatre job, I’ve managed to claw back some of that time I lost. The pandemic helped. I discovered some of the great poets and spoken word nights that Scotland has to offer, such as Speakin’ Weird and Hotch Potch – I even started writing my own poetry again! It was difficult to know where to start, after so long away. I began by journaling – then I would find words and phrases that resonated with me and turn them into something resembling poetry. I’ve even had my work published!
Meeting Aeryn, my soon-to-be wife, really reignited my love for poetry. She was particularly instrumental in introducing me to Scottish poetry events – and we’ve attended many during lock-down! Hysteria Aberdeen is one of our favourites. They have recently received some funding to create something queer and fabulous for LGBT history month – and they have decided to create a zine! The theme is ‘Unsung’, which focuses on intersectionality and untold LGBT stories. The deadline is 5th February, and you can send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org – I sent my piece in yesterday and I really enjoyed working on it and venting some frustrations!
Owning Coin-Operated Press with Chloe has really fuelled my passion for poetry and the written word. That is why this year we turned Burns Night into Burns Month! We wanted to take the essence of the Burns supper and celebrate it all month long! We had some wonderful Scottish poets contribute to ‘Keep Yer Heid!’ – the poetry collection will be coming to the Coin-Op Shop very soon!!
While Scottish poetry is often regarded as bleak, and a bit gloomy, sometimes the times just call for that, I suppose! But I have found Scottish Poetry to be witty and warm – and very funny! Maybe it’s all the rain, but Scots sure do know how to lift a person’s spirits! There’s a brilliant mix of emotions within the pages of our Scottish poetry zine, some even written in traditional Scots…which took me a second to get my head around…But I’ve always got my wee Scottish lassie to give me lessons!
Keep Yer Heid and Haste Ye Back!