The Midnight Letterbox


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Recently I wrote about The Midnight Letterbox: Selected Correspondence 1950- 2010, a collection of Edwin Morgan’s letters edited by James McGonigal and John Coyle, for the Scottish Review of Books. You can read what I thought here.


Morgan, second from left, wearing a kilt in Kiev as part of a cultural delegation in 1955.




Out There!

Out There is in print at last and looking beautiful, thanks to everyone at Freight Books! And the contents are pretty good too, with stellar contributions from Ali Smith, Jackie Kay, Louise Welsh, Ronald Frame, Christopher Whyte, Kirsty Logan, Allan Radcliffe and many, many more. I am particularly pleased to have been able to include so many writers I admire, including some who have been an inspiration to me for many years. At the same time, I’ve discovered exciting new voices who will, I believe, go on to publish many more works in the future. The book is already attracting some lovely review coverage:

‘the work in this collection from both established and emerging writers is as moving as it is brilliantly written, and the opportunity to have them all in one place is irresistible.’ The List

‘this sophisticated and mature volume does a great deal more than simply tackle the heterosexual viewpoint that dominates most Scottish literary work, especially in very male-dominated stories. The short stories, poems and non-fiction collected here all put lesbian women and gay men at the centre of society and the centre of the story. But they do so in such a casual and easeful way that it almost feels as though the centre of society and the centre of the story are a place they have always occupied.’ Sunday Herald

Out There (edited by Zoë Strachan)

The anthology would not have been possible without funding from LGBT History Month Scotland – thank you very much indeed for that, and to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, who also contributed to production costs.

GLASGOW LAUNCH coming up: Mono, Thursday 13th November, 7pm! All welcome.

A busy summer

It’s been a busy summer so far. Really enjoyed the West Cork Literary Festival – well done to new director Nell Regan for a great first programme – and it was lovely to teach Arvon at Moniack Mhor and use the new hobbit house for workshops. Looking forward to going back when they’re independent too. It was also a pleasure to revisit my old stomping ground at SUISS to teach a masterclass.

hobbit house

I had a fascinating trip around Central Europe courtesy of the wonderful people at Větrné mlýny for the Authors’ Reading Month. There may be documentary evidence on Youtube, which I think I’ll avoid, but the discussions were lively and interesting in each of the cities I visited. Audiences in Ostrava seemed particularly familiar with the Buzzcocks and the Dead Kennedys though . . .


New Writing Scotland 32: Songs From Other Places is on sale now, edited by myself and Gerry Cambridge. It’s a slightly slimmed down volume this year, and we’re very happy with it. Launches in Glasgow and Edinburgh coming up soon!


And Out There, my new anthology of LGBT writing from Scotland, has finally gone to print at Freight Books. It’s available for pre-order here, and there are selections of work that couldn’t be included in the print edition on the LGBT History Month website here. Launch details for that coming soon too, but here’s a pic from a lovely preview we did at Pride House during the Commonwealth Games.

Apart from that, I wrote a short story for a very rainy event for Festival 2014 at Kelvingrove Bandstand – the audience deserved medals – and I’m working away on a new novel, slowly but surely.




Jewel in the Crown

I wrote about Penelope Jardine’s collected volume of Muriel Spark’s essays, The Golden Fleece, and Hidden Possibilities: Essays in Honor of Muriel Spark (edited by Robert E. Hosmer), in the last edition of the Scottish Review of Books. You can read the piece here. This is the kind of brooch Muriel wore to meet her American publisher, but what colours, I wonder?

ruby amethyst aquamarine gold jean schlumberger tiffany & co carp koi fish

My concluding line – and this is simply an excuse to quote one of my favourite Sparkisms – is: “Her own essays, collected by Penelope Jardine in The Golden Fleece, illustrate beautifully another of her concerns: that the ‘purpose of art is to give pleasure . . . that element of pleasure which restores the proportions of the human spirit, opens windows in the mind.’”

Muriel Spark’s Finishing School for Writers

Looking forward to a lively Spark discussion on Saturday at Aye Write!

5 Apr 2014 • 3:00 P.M – 4:00 P.M • Mitchell Library

‘Meaghan Delahunt, Zoe Strachan and Alan Taylor reflect on the place of Creative Writing in Spark’s work.

Muriel Spark was an editor and teacher of Creative Writing who knew the publishing industry inside out. To mark the 10th anniversary of the publication of her last novel, The Finishing School (2004), Meaghan Delahunt, Zoe Strachan and Alan Taylor reflect on the place of Creative Writing in Spark’s work. Chaired by Willy Maley.

Tickets can be purchased on the booking hotline 0141 353 8000, online at or in person from the Mitchell Library, (Monday to Thursday 9am-8pm and Friday and Saturday 9am-5pm) the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall Box Office (Monday to Saturday 10am-6pm) and City Halls Box Office (Monday to Saturday 12pm-6pm)’


21 Revolutions – the book

Hot off the press, the lovely 21 Revolutions publication:


The book features a story called ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’ by Louise Welsh and I, inspired by various items in the Glasgow Women’s Library archive including a sex education booklet from the National Marriage Guidance Council and a packet of Dusty Springfield sweet pea seeds. There are lots of fantastic stories and poems in the book, as well as reproductions of all the original artworks created to celebrate 21 years of changing minds at GWL. You can find out more – and buy the book – here.