Right enough, writing about me is the only kind of writing I don’t enjoy…but here goes…I currently work as a freelance writer, photographer and outdoor adventure tour leader. I’m the published author of three books of poetry and creative non-fiction, and an experienced creative writing tutor, having taught for many years at the Universities of Cumbria, Leeds Beckett, Salford and Strathclyde, and for Arvon and school / community groups. Having recently left academia in order to make more time for my own practice, I am currently available for tutoring, mentoring, editing and residency opportunities.
Both of my poetry collections, Leaf Graffiti (2013) and Tripping Over Clouds (2019) are published by Carcanet Press / Northern House. My second book, Through the Weather Glass, published by Knives Forks and Spoons Press in 2015, is a hybrid novel which explores climate change through a ‘fantastic’ combination of fictionalised travel writing, poetry and documentary photography. I am currently working on book number four, a prose memoir called Waiting for Potatoes which tells the story of a year I spent potato farming while I was in my early twenties, framed by Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, and the contemporary political situation surrounding climate change and Brexit. Other current projects include putting the finishing touches to a pamphlet of crossword collage poems, developing a major digital creative project called Scree which explores the links between human and environmental trauma in the context of the Lakeland fells, and various ongoing collaborations with other artists.
In my creative practice I’m interested in the ‘between’ spaces – between words on a page, words and things, experiment and tradition, poetry and prose, and between literature, visual art and performance. Over recent years my interest in a range of different artistic practices has led me to work across and between disciplines and forms. Throughout 2016 I toured an interactive art installation version of Through the Weather Glass around book festivals and other public spaces across the UK with the support of Arts Council England and Leeds Beckett University. I am also currently collaborating with OBRA Theatre Co on co-writing a work of poetry for physical theatre, and during 2019 collaborated with internationally renowned Kattak dancer Mitul Sengupta as part of the Arts Council funded Dancing with Words project. In addition to my writing, I am a professional photographer, with particular interests in abstract, collage and landscape photography. A solo photography exhibition to sit alongside Tripping Over Clouds is currently under development.
Earlier in my career I worked as an environmental campaigner for organisations like Friends of the Earth and Ramblers Scotland, and I continue to explore environmental themes in my work. but I’ve also managed a café, collected recycling, grown potatoes, sold magazines to hairdressers, marketed a rural arts centre, x-rayed the mail looking for bombs and hit broccoli with a big long stick as ways to earn a living. Just because someone has to / I could.