We have several Honorary Shore Poets, former members of the organising group or people who have helped us keep the show on the road for so long.
TOM POW (HONORARY PRESIDENT)
Following Stewart Conn’s long association with Shore Poets as Hon. President, we were delighted that Tom Pow accepted the invitation in 2021. We look forward to a long and happy association with Tom.
Dear Alice, Narratives of Madness, written while Tom was working for Glasgow University in Dumfries, won the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Poetry Book of the Year in 2009, the same year In The Becoming – New and Selected Poems was published. Since then, he has published A Wild Adventure – Thomas Watling, Dumfries Convict Artist and Concerning the Atlas of Scotland and Other Poems. Recolectores de Nueces (The Walnut Gatherers), a bi-lingual selection of poems, translated by Jorge Fondebrider, was published in October 2015. Barefoot – the Collected Poems of Alastair Reid, which he edited, came out in 2018. His most recent collection is Naranjas (Galileo Publishing, 2021). Life and Still Life, two pamphlets responding to the pandemic, have just been published by Roncadora Press. He is an honorary fellow of the Association of Scottish Literary Studies and is recorded in the Poetry Archive. He was Creative Director of A Year of Conversation 2019.
Stewart Conn became our first Hon. President in 1993, a role he fulfilled with energy and commitment for nearly three decades. He attended many events, read for us frequently, helped edit our anthologies and was the producer of our CD of readings. He was always available for advice and gave us huge encouragement. We are deeply indebted to him.
Stewart is one of Scotland’s most distinguished poets. His work, with its distinctly rhythmical and lyrical qualities and passionate interest in music and art, has been widely published and translated. He was born in Glasgow and now lives in Edinburgh, where until 1992 he was Head of Radio Drama at BBC Scotland. From 2002 to 2005 he was Edinburgh’s first Makar, or poet laureate. The Breakfast Room (Bloodaxe, 2010) won the SMIT Poetry Book of the Year in 2011. His The Touch of Time: New & Selected Poems (Bloodaxe) was published in 2014 to much acclaim. His latest poetry publication is Against the Light (Mariscat, 2016): poems of love and Edinburgh. And he has recently recorded a selection of his work for the Poetry Archive. Learn more about Stewart at his website.
Brian Johnstone, co-founder of Shore Poets, sadly died in May 2021. Along with Roz Brackenbury, Brian organised the first event in October 1991, in the Shore Gallery, Leith. He remained a driving force behind the group for many years, active in recruiting like-minded poets willing to help. Some of us who joined in 1992-3 are still involved! He was instrumental in shaping events, suggesting headline poets to invite, finding sources of funding and coming up with novel ideas. He was also keen on having a café-bar atmosphere with music and conviviality, features which have stood the test of time.
Under his chairmanship we also ventured furth of Edinburgh: to the Pittenweem Arts Festival, to Tulloch Castle in Dingwall, the Clutha Vaults in Glasgow and the New Bazaar in Dumfries. In those days we also managed to host readings at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. We produced anthologies and commissioned Iain Crichton Smith to write a special poem to mark the 250th anniversary of the Jacobite Rebellion. Brian didn’t stand still.
Several years later he was instrumental in the launch of Stanza Poetry Festival and, as its Director from 2000, shepherded it as it developed into the successful international festival it is today. Although at this time he stepped back from Shore Poets, knowing that he was leaving behind a sound organisation, he remained a committed Honorary member. We owe Brian a huge debt of gratitude for his imagination, flair and skills of organisation.
Brian was also a fine poet, the author of four poetry collections, several pamphlets and a memoir. His final poetry collection, The Marks on the Map, was launched in early April, just weeks before his death.
Ken Cockburn is a poet and translator based in Edinburgh, who also runs Edinburgh Poetry Tours, guided walks in the city’s Old Town. He regularly collaborates with visual artists on book, exhibition and public art projects. Recent collaborations include Ness with sculptor Mary Bourne, for the redeveloped Inverness riverside; and Veined with Shadow-branches, an exploration of the Ettrick Valley with painter Andrew Mackenzie. A Creative Scotland ‘Vital Spark’ Award in 2010 enabled Ken and Alec Finlay to undertake The Road North, a journey around Scotland guided by the 17th-century Japanese poet Basho, which led an extensive blog, an exhibition, and a jointly-composed long poem which was published in book form in autumn 2014. His website is at https://kencockburn.co.uk.
JIM C WILSON
Jim was born in Edinburgh in 1948. He studied English Language and Literature at Edinburgh University and taught for nine years at Telford College. He was Writer in Residence for Stirling District (1989-1991) and was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow from 2001 until 2007. He has taught his Poetry in Practice classes at Edinburgh University since 1994. His prose and poetry have been widely published for 35 years and he has had poetry collections published by Making Waves, Chapman, Mariscat, HappenStance and Greenwich Exchange. He was a Shore Poet from 2002 until 2010. His website is at www.jimcwilson.com.
Primarily a poet, Diana also writes short stories and is the author of many children’s books. She’s worked as a journalist, English teacher and a tutor at the University of Bristol, University of the West of England and the Open University. She has tutored many creative writing courses for the Arvon Foundation and for a year was writer-in-residence at Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary. Diana has published six collections of poems. The most recent are The Seed-Box Lantern: New & Selected Poems and with Douglas Dunn and Vicki Feaver a Saltire pamphlet, Second Wind. A collection of short stories is due out from Red Squirrel in 2017 and a junior novel, Whoever You Are in 2019.
Nancy Somerville, a Glaswegian who lives on the Isle of Mull, is widely published in anthologies and magazines. She writes mainly poetry but also short stories and is working on a novel. She was a member of Shore Poets 1997-2015 and convenor 2010-2014. In 2004, with Stewart Conn, she co-edited Goldfish Suppers, an illustrated poetry anthology for families with young children. Her poetry collection Waiting for Zebras was published by Red Squirrel Press (Scotland) in 2008.
Frank has been writing poetry and prose for many years, with several novels in his drawer. He plays violin and viola in several ensembles around Edinburgh, in The Whole Shebang, in Holm, and in the St Andrew Orchestra.