My ancestry’s firmly grounded in the North-East of Scotland, specifically in Buchan, Moray and the Black Isle. To some, the definition of ‘The Highlands’ excludes these rural, agricultural borders of the Highland mountains, but that doesn’t really bother me. I feel at home here, in the big triangle that includes Aberdeenshire, Banffshire, Moray and Nairn.
In the past two years, as the Scottish Poetry Library’s Poet Partner with Moray Libraries, I’ve come here often to conduct workshops, give readings, and to do other things to raise the profile of poetry in Moray. It’s been terrific, and I’m grateful to SPL, to Moray Libraries and their staff, and to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The partnership now only has two further sessions to go, and these are being organised at the moment, but it won’t be the end of my connections with the people, the libraries, the landscapes and the poetry of the area – how could it be?
So this weekend DunbarJane and I are making a Grand Tour of the area, to the places I’ve worked in – Lossiemouth, Elgin, Forres, Buckie, Cullen, and the places in between. We’re taking the scenic route, via the Cairngorms and passing through the distillery towns of the Speyside Whisky Trail.
Incidentally, the title of this posting is a Burns song.