I write as A.M. Havinden.
I’m currently working on a poetry collection titled ‘The Water Cure’. It’s a book born of, and steeped in, the waters of the West Coast of Scotland. More on that to follow.
In my work I’m generally interested in experiences of living – including stories, myth and perception. I’m especially interested in the embodied experiences of womanhood and the voices of women, historically often absent or hard to find. Usually I’m concerned with beauty, too; aware of how uneasy that word has become – both in imagery and in the sound qualities of a poem.
Recently I’ve become increasingly fascinated by place/land and how it affects people – considering the geography and history of a place, as well as how voices are and have been silenced, suppressed or expressed in different ways.
Currently, I’m investigating that in relation to water, the maritime and seaside histories of Argyll, where I live. This, both metaphorically and literally, has been a fascinating voyage so far.
What the sky demands
the wind insists on.
How much light can one body bear?
See what we become when our gnarled,
knotted needs are swept aside.
A landscape stripped to the horizon
to rockform, flint flaked with hesitant gleam.
Gorse-root fingered, peat block feet
tread paths perpendicular to the weather.
Whin-haired, heather sweetened,
a huddle of willow bickers
behind you, a flock of starlings
weave their old prayers into the cloud.
I worked as a writer throughout my twenties, producing everything from textbook copy to fiction, publishing two novels and dozens of short stories under a pen-name, as well as editing fiction and poetry. In the past ten years, however, I’ve focussed on poetry.
Most recently, I’ve started to investigate how my writing might meet up with and cross over into my visual arts practise.
Product, Gutter, Iota, Valve, Poetry Scotland, And Other Poems
‘The Whore’s Bath in Art’ – James Kirkup Poetry Prize 2012
‘Land Girls’ William Soutar Poetry Prize 2013
‘Private Burden’ Nairn Book & Arts Festival Writing Prize 2014
Runner Up for Holland Park Prize, Stirling Book Festival
Only Connect, Cinnamon Press
X – The Poetry of Sex, ed Sophie Hannah, Penguin
Medusa and her Sisters, ed Natalie Sirrett
A Bee’s Breakfast, ed Rebecca Jane Bilkau
Small Stones, ed Fiona Robyn
My poem ‘Wild Cherry’ is installed at the wonderful Corbenic Poetry Path, and a poem has recently appeared in the Phone Box on Bute. ‘In Search of Lost Time’ appeared in Port Glasgow train station as part of the Renfrewshire’s Mental Health Arts Festival.
I’ve taught poetry to children and supported adults in a writing group at a disability resource centre – including translating for writers with varying communication methods, read as part of Poetry Scotland’s Showcase at Stanza festival, and read poetry around Scotland and England.
My pamphlet, Meeting Buddha in Dumbarton, 2014, Red Squirrel Press (as N Magennis). Copies are available at £5 inc P+P (UK).
‘At once deeply personal and thematically universal … a fascinating work of surprising substance’
– Jennifer Flach at Dura
‘Her writing brings us a feminised history with dirt under its nails … Personal, lyrical, fierce and tender’
– Jo Bell