Poetry and Flash Fiction
by Ruth Gilchrist
I am a writing mum, who muddles through most days grateful if things run smoothly. Distracted by birdsong, children and water I try to write something every day, just like an artist would keep a sketch pad or a musician would practice.
While I was first dabbling with the idea of writing, (not sure if I could, but aware that it was having a profound effect on my mental health), I was awarded the Tyne and Esk ; Writer Of The Year. This was for TheRift, a piece that drew heavily on sights and sounds from my own childhood in Africa. Being an active member of several writing groups has become very important for the camaraderie and support they offer, regardless of where you are in your own writing story. It has been my great pleasure throughout the pandemic to lead a writing mother's poetry group for the Scottish Poetry Library. Designing creative writing workshops is fun and the feedback is always rewarding.
A huge amount of inspiration comes from the environment in which I am fortunate to live, but people inspire me just as much especially if their dedication, enthusiasm and emotion shines. Residencies and commissions are a great way to interpret an artistic or academic work for a wider audience. I have taken commission on a variety of subjects including orchestra, steam engines and oyster restoration.
Reading is just as important to a writer as listening is to a musician. We are fortunate if we can belong to a library, so I support my own when I can and I volunteer as a lead reader for The Open Book. Reading helps me stretch and learn in terms of style and voice, and I try new forms. Whilst exploring Cyprus, I wrote Nereid. It is described as a 'haunting piece' of flash fiction and won the Federation Of Writers Scotland 'vernal equinox' prize in 2020.
Collaboration and community projects are another vital ingredient in my writing life. I have been lucky to work with musicians, film, radio and artists as well as perform my work regularly on stage. My publisher is also local and in 2019 myself and two other local poets got together with Black Agnes Press to launch our pamphlet, The Weather Looks Promising.