Saturday, 10 December 2011

Cast in Stone

I’m very excited to report one of my poems is part of an award-winning art project in Stranraer, south west Scotland.

Dumfries & Galloway-based sculptor Matt Baker won the prestigious bi-annual Saltire Society Award for Art in Architecture Scotland for the Castle Square project in Stranraer. Part of the regeneration of the town centre the project has transformed the space around the Castle of St John.  Matt worked on the project with fellow Galloway-based artist David Ralston and architects Smith Scott Mullan Associates (project architect – Rachel Simmonds).
Matt asked permission to engrave my poem, Ocean, on a retaining wall of local whinstone or greywacke, rock which originally formed the seabed of the ocean which separated Scotland and England about 400 million years ago. When the two land masses crashed together the seabed was pushed up out of the water and turned into the hard grey rock which forms the Southern uplands of Scotland. Stranraer is at one end of the Southern Uplands and Berwickshire the other. The idea of the wall is that it changes in feel from ‘ocean’ at one end to ‘hill’ at the other and this is reflected in the form of the whinstone along its length – changing from its slate-like form to large boulders.

The poem, called Ocean, was originally written for a project on which Matt and I collaborated at the Cairnsmore of Fleet Nature Reserve in south west Scotland. Matt created five sculptures, which have been placed in various parts around the nature reserve and I wrote a short collection of poems.

Here is Ocean, which Matt chose to have engraved in the wall.

Turned inside out, upside down,
ocean’s floor rose into light,
seabed became mountain peak,
rocky crags where peregrine fly
and ravens cry.

Ocean and other poems will appear in my first full poetry collection, called Thousands Pass Here Every Day, which will be published in 2012 by Indigo Dreams. As soon as I know the publication date, I’ll be on here telling everyone!

News of the Saltire Society Award can be found here: and the background to the project is here:

In my last blog I wrote about taking part in this year’s NaNoWriMo and my conviction I would complete it this year, after failing in previous years. Well, despite my best efforts I gave up half way through. I take my hat off to those who managed to write 50,000 words in November and I am sure they must be experiencing a wonderful feeling of satisfaction at their achievement. It took me several days to shake of my feelings of worthlessness at not making it to the end of the month. On a more positive note I do have 20,000 plus words of a novel, which I hope to work on after I’ve recovered from the trauma of being, yet again, a failure.  I am NOT going to try again. If anyone hears me even considering signing up for NaNoWriMo next year please step in and remind me of how miserable it made me this year.


  1. Something so very permanent with the sculpture, Mary......and lovely words. So pleased for you.

  2. Thanks, Linda. There's something rather lovely about knowing my words will still be there long after I've gone.

  3. Wow, Mary - talk about leaving something to be remembered by. How lovely - and takes us full circle to the 'objects' I was talking about in my last blog, 'Truth and Beauty'!

  4. Brilliant poem and so special to see it set in stone. Quite something. And Nanowrimo next year... surely if we tried together??

  5. Thanks, Jenny. I hadn't thought of the circular route back to your objects!
    Gill, the answer is NO! I couldn't bear to try NaNoWriMo again.

  6. I will remind you about the NaNoWriMo (see I even got it right for once) next year, Mary. You don't need that with your very own poem set in stone for generations to come. So much better than print on paper. Well done both of you.

  7. Thank you, Gwen. I shall rely on you to stop me foolishly signing up again next year for NaNoWriMo.

  8. Blimey Mary - having your poem selected and captured for eternity is more thrilling and more special than any 10 NaNoWriMo wins could be -

    It upsets me to hear you say you failed NaNo - because I genuinely don't think that's what it's all about - it's a daft wee challenge when all's said and done - with no prizes, no particular kudos and certainly no literary merit. I know people will always say 'it's not the winning that counts, it's the taking part...' but in NaNo's case I do believe that's true. You've tried it - and found it doesn't work for you (though 20,000 words is nothing to be sniffed at!)

    So please Mary - don't be miserable - you don't need NaNo to prove how great a writer you are - it's going to be written in stone for heaven's sake!

  9. Thanks for your comments, Gilly. I'm getting over the feeling of failure now - and I do have a useful chunk of raw material. However, I still don't want to have another go next year!
    If you're ever in Stranraer go and see my poem on the wall.