Geopoetics News October 2017

Published by Norrie on

A warm welcome to all the new members who have joined the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics since June’s Expressing the Earth Conference in Argyll, and to all the new subscribers to this newsletter. A special welcome to new members in Australia and Ireland.

The conference was a watershed event in the development of geopoetics and we have decided to follow it with a Geopoetics Day and an annual Tony McManus Geopoetics Lecture to be held after our AGM on Saturday 18th November. The inaugural lecture will be on Nan Shepherd as Geopoet and will be given by our Chairperson James McCarthy.

Geopoetics Day

Tony McManus Geopoetics Lecture

James McCarthy: Nan Shepherd as Geopoet

Saturday 18 November at 15.15

Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton, Edinburgh

Tony McManus founded the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics in 1995 and was its director until his death in 2002. He was a wonderful musician and teacher who wrote many perceptive essays and reviews as well as the book The Radical Field. He worked tirelessly to raise awareness of geopoetics in Scotland and internationally. The Centre has decided to initiate an annual lecture in his memory to recognise his important work. The inaugural lecture will take place this year in Edinburgh, given by Chairperson James McCarthy on the theme of ‘Nan Shepherd as Geopoet.’

Nan Shepherd has been described by Robert McFarlane as “an incredibly inspiring figure, and an unusual one, in the sense of being a woman writing about mountains and the wilderness and nature… she’s so far ahead of us – we’re only starting to catch Nan up. Philosophically and stylistically, she was extraordinary.”

James McCarthy is a writer based in Edinburgh, the author of 11 published books, currently focussed on historic Scottish travellers and explorers, in addition to articles in other publications. He is a former forester and leading conservationist who has travelled extensively in East Africa, USA, Canada, Australia and Europe. He is an engaging speaker who has presented his work at the leading book festivals in Scotland.


Free entry; donations welcome. You can attend for all or part of the day.

Please email Norman Bissell if you are having lunch so we can let The Bridge Inn know numbers – lunch booking is essential. Standard menu can be found here.

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10.30 – Assemble at main entrance to Heriot-Watt University (directions; campus map)
10.45 – Walk along the Union Canal to Ratho
12.15 – Lunch at the Bridge Inn, Ratho
13.30 – Transport to Heriot-Watt University
13.45 – AGM (agenda to follow to members and those attending)
15.15 – Tony McManus Geopoetics Lecture
15.45 – Questions and discussion
16.30 – Close

7pm until late – informal ceilidh in Edinburgh (venue to be confirmed). Come all ye and bring your songs and poems.

A collaborative exhibition by Alec Finlay and Hannah Imlach exploring energy independence, localism, and technology, from the Neolithic quernstones (hand-mills) of the islands, to the MoD rocket range on Uist and St Kilda, and the renewable energy arrays of the future. Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre, North Uist until 28 October. Read more

Mairi Campbell takes her acclaimed one woman show Pulse to Paisley, Stirling, Aberdeen and Cromarty from 5 – 14 October 2017. Follow her journey of discovery in her music and life from London to Mexico, Cape Breton to Lismore.
Video | Tickets | Read more


Somhairle MacDonald is an artist, photographer and musician from the Scottish Highlands. His recent work inspired by the landscapes of Lochaber will be on display at The Ceilidh Place, Ullapool from 16 October – 4 January.
On Landscape | Instagram | Read more


Karine Polwart returns with her hit show Wind Resistance to the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh from 3 – 11 November 2017. A compelling combination of story and song set at Fala Flow, south-east of Edinburgh.
Video | Read more


A host of guided walks, talks, short courses and other interesting events from Shetland to Glasgow, Eigg to Edinburgh will take place throughout October for Scotland’s Geoheritage Festival. It includes the launch of ’51 Best Places to see Scotland’s Geology’ by the Scottish Geodiversity Forum at Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh on Saturday 14 October from 10 – 4pm. Read more

The Shieling Project has won ‘Best Social Enterprise’ at the Highland Business Awards. The project is a community enterprise, working with schools, teachers and local community exploring our landscape’s past to help shape a more resilient future – a microcosm of a lived philosophy of placemaking. Visit on Wednesday 11th October for family fun as part of the Highland Archaeology Festival. Read more

Poetry reading on Thursday 30 November and workshop on ‘Herbs Habitat and Ways of Knowing’ on Friday 1 December at Taigh Chearsabhaigh Museum and Arts Centre, North Uist. Elizabeth’s new poetry collection, Haggards, based on her work on herbs, from Red Squirrel Press will be launched at the Scottish Poetry Library on 10 February 2018. Read more

A new book from Kenneth White is now available from Aberdeen University Press. Collected Works, Volume 1: Underground to Otherground contains 3 early books, Incandescent Limbo, Letters from Gourgounel and Travels in the Drifting Dawn. Read more. There are also some of his essays available in English here. An appreciation of his work and a retracing of his Blue Road journey to Labrador can be read here. More information can be found on his personal website here.

Intercultural Geopoetics in Kenneth White’s Open World by Mohammed Hashas introduces geopoetics as a radical, postmodern interdisciplinary and intercultural project.
Read more

Please send information about geopoetics related publications, news and events for future newsletters to Norman Bissell.

Stravaig is the online journal of the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics, published on our website. We invite you to submit essays, poems, artwork and images for the next issue on the theme Expressing the Earth to Norman Bissell by 15 January 2018. Email:

You can read the latest issue of Stravaig by clicking below:
Stravaig Issue 5

The keynote talks by Michael Russell and Norman Bissell at the Expressing the Earth Conference are available to read on our website

“Sweet the Cuckoo’s Sound” Argyll: Place, People and Neighbours

Expressing the Earth: Geopoetics and George Orwell

The Scottish Centre for Geopoetics is a membership organisation which relies on members’ subscriptions to fund its activities which are carried out by volunteers. Its purpose is to raise awareness of geopoetics as a crucial way to approach and respond creatively to the natural world of which we are part.

Its network of individuals includes visual artists, writers, musicians, ornithologists, geologists, botanists, teachers and lecturers who all share a common interest in developing an understanding of geopoetics and applying it creatively in their lives.

Membership for the year is £10 waged / £5 unwaged. Thank you!

Read more about membership here

Download membership form here

Please feel free to circulate this newsletter to friends who may be interested.

Norman Bissell
Director, Scottish Centre for Geopoetics
Mo Dhachaidh
51 Cullipool
Isle of Luing
PA34 4UB
tel. 01852 314322
twitter @nbissell