One of the many reasons why I’m looking forward to this year’s StAnza Festival (http://www.stanzapoetry.org) is the chance to meet up with poets I haven’t seen for a long time. Back in 1995, before I wrote the title sequence for my first collection – Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Highlands – I went on an Arvon course at Moniack Mhor. It’s an inspirational place, of course, and the tutors were terrific – Ruth Padel and Selima Hill. Ruth’s workshops in particular have stayed with me, and have definitely influenced my own poetic style. This is a photo of the two of us (believe it or not), on the windswept moorland road, courtesy of David Gilbert. I wrote a haiku to accompany it.
two poets passing place
passing time, debate
the texture of clouds
Later that year, I went back to Moniack Mhor for a writer’s retreat, and wrote the whole title sequence – thirteen poems plus prologue and epilogue – in three days. The book was published in 1996. As I say, an inspiring place.