The new book - a poetry collection called 'Byssus' – is due at the publisher's in two weeks' time. And writing, with conditions of a contract to fulfil, and the awareness that this really is my last chance to say what I'm trying to say in this book about Shetland - home - folk - bodies - the natural world, has become something of a performative act. Everything I do now, including naps on the cliff top when my head's too full to work, feeds the book. (I've spent the last two weekends 'skiving' at Wordplay and Screenplay - the annual book and film festivals organised by Shetland Arts). The desk is covered in paper. A friend brought me a dip-pen and a bottle of green ink from France. I like it very much...it slows me down. Small towers of teabags rise on the chopping board. Half-realised poems go in and out of the manuscript. Cryptic lists everywhere of things that I am trying to say and hope I might have said at the end of the fortnight. As a strategy, it half-works. A smell of woodsmoke in the kitchen: a friend showed up with a tub of fish last week. Swimsuits drying in front of the radiator: we got perhaps our last swim of the season in a pool on the cliffs. It all feeds the book, just because this book is about how you make yourself at home. I wonder if I'll ever write about anything else. It is coming gradually into focus. This post is as much for myself. It is all so pleasurable. I want to remember this when - once again, I've got nothing to say, and can't imagine myself as a poet. At the moment I'm trying to write about puffballs - how they convert from this (above) to this (below).
For the past six years, Shetland's landscape and language have persistently influenced my poetry and visual art.Since my second book Nigh-No-Place, won the T.S.Eliot Award in 2008, I’ve worked primarily as a poet, creative writing tutor, and classroom assistant, but walking, and gathering wild food and materials for my visual art-works, are as important in my creative life as my language-based practice. My third poetry collection, Byssus, is due to be published early 2014.