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UHI lecturer from Achiltibuie launches new Highland poetry society

By Iona M.J. MacDonald

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Mandy Haggith
Mandy Haggith

An Achiltibuie UHI lecturer has created a new Scottish Highlands and Islands Poetry Society (SHIPS), launching this weekend (November 18).

The society will bring together emerging and established poets from across the Highlands and Islands to participate in online and in-person activities including open mic readings, workshops, shared writing sessions and networking gatherings.

Creative writing and literature lecturer Mandy Haggith from Achiltibuie, held the preliminary discussions in January to form the society and Paul Shanks, a lecturer in literature and drama, is the chair of the society’s steering group.

Mandy will chair the online launch between 10am and 12pm on November 18, and she is one of many local poets who will give public readings during the launch at Waterstones Inverness from 2.30–4.30pm.

Waterstones, Eastgate Centre, Inverness. Picture: Callum Mackay..
Waterstones, Eastgate Centre, Inverness. Picture: Callum Mackay..

The society’s poets, including Andrea Turner, Cáit O’Neill McCullagh, Chris Powici, Donald S Murray, Ian Stephen, James Andrew and Mandy Haggith, will share poems from their most recent publications and special debuts of new works in progress during the launch on the store’s mezzanine level.

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Mandy, a co-founder of the society and poet, novelist and non-fiction writer, said: “Poets in the Highlands and Islands are a powerful part of our culture. We need to come together for mutual support and to amplify what we have to say, whether that's in Gaelic, Scots or English, and to welcome others into the wonderful world of poetry.”

Paul Shanks, a poet who helped facilitate creative writing initiatives in Inverness, said: “SHIPS has come together to foster connections and a sense of community amongst poets writing in the Highlands and Islands. The SHIPS steering group is currently planning a series of events and workshops, online and in-person, that will both celebrate and nurture the diverse range of voices active in our region. We also want to encourage the reading and enjoyment of poetry via activities and public events that bring people together and inspire them.”

Orkney poet Lydia Harris will speak about the online silent writing sessions, while Nairn-based poet James Andrew will lead a 15-minute poetry writing workshop. Cáit O'Neill McCullagh from Easter Ross will set out the planned series of online winter readings and open mics, and the online event will close with a workshop by Ardnamurchan and Cévannes-based poet, Sharon Black.

There is no booking required for the Waterstones launch, however if you would like to book a place at the online event visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/scottish-highlands-and-islands-poetry-society-ships-online-launch-tickets-74

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