Roddy Lumsden (1966-2020) was a widely acclaimed and innovative poet – and left his mark on a generation of upcoming UK poets, including Sarah Howe, Kayo Chingonyi and Ahren Warner. Roddy was a poet of rare quality who offered his time to supporting and encouraging the work of emerging poets, through his editorial insights, his fostering of a poetic community, and willingness to champion newer voices.
As someone who benefited from such generosity earlier in his writing life, poet Niall Campbell aims to honour Roddy’s legacy through the spirit of advocating for a new generation of writers. Building on Roddy’s guidance over the last two decades, the mentorship scheme seeks to develop and showcase new voices in the Scottish literary scene. Four poets will each receive 4 one hour mentoring sessions with award-winning poet Niall Campbell over a 10 month period.
Niall Campbell says:
What an exciting moment for this project. The first mentees are here and every bit as wonderful as expected. I think there’s something particularly in tune with Roddy’s sensibilities that those selected for this first year have such contrasting voices. Charles Lang, from Glasgow’s Castlemilk, powers his lines with the strength and flavour of his dialect; Tim Tim Cheng brings the political and personal to poetry about Hong Kong and Edinburgh; Lynn Valentine waves the lyrical flag for the weathered, wind-swept highlands; Patrick Romero McCafferty writes the wonderful cadences of his dual heritages of Scotland and Latin America. Different voices and different interests but, as Roddy knew well, with such things, poetic vibrancy unites them.
…is a poet and a teacher from Hong Kong, currently reading the MSc in Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh. She was awarded the William Hunter Sharpe Memorial Scholarship. Her poems are published or forthcoming in Berfrois, diode, The Margins, ANMLY, Cicada Magazine, Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre Weekly Poem, Cordite Poetry Review, Ricepaper, among others. She is working on chapbooks which explore Hong Kong from various angles, as well as desire and rituals through the lens of tattooing. timtimcheng.com
A Sample Poem
Big ferns fan and quicken. The air
by their yellow edges hisses:
Lichen, lichen, lichen, lichen! Climb these
branches like lizards.
Headlong into the fog, runners spiral,
imprint, shoe by shoe,
scales on the bruised heaths, which say
old bones, old bones,
the wild ridges in shadow, old bones;
your feet, compromised
by the creamy soil. Breath by breath,
in the depth of lungs. The gusts,
at the border of our skin,
document the coming and going—
myriad chroma shifts.
Patrick Romero McCafferty
Patrick (b. 1995) is a Mexican-Scottish poet. His work has appeared recently in the Oxford Review of Books, Magma, and amberflora. He translated Ellen Renton’s spoken-word theatre piece, Within Sight, into Spanish for Otros Territorios Film Festival in 2021. He facilitates workshops for Fusion Arts, translates, and edits Wet Grain.
In support of the campaign, Paphos 2020
Those already there were also runners.
They jogged from rubble toward the whistling
and ate what their shepherds shook from the evening,
peg eyes lowered and bells going, chewing juniper.
The rains had left a chassis leaning on a tree
long enough for an axle to graft itself to branch.
It belvedered the path we’d followed via ravine,
cobbled bridges, its mutant charm trad as feeding.
Save this. Save the generations of a stream
that carry heavy machinery where we’d run. Save
the passed-on nonchalance of mother mountain goats.
Save urges to reiterate, an inheritance of schist.
Be of gorge. Contour, please, these solar years.
…lives on the Black Isle in the Scottish Highlands. She has her debut collection Life’s Stink and Honey published by Cinnamon Press in April 2022 after winning their Literature Award. Lynn has a Scots language pamphlet ‘A Glimmer o Stars’ published by Hedgehog Poetry Press in 2021, after winning their dialect competition. She was runner-up in the Scots category of the Wigtown Poetry prize in 2021.
All That is Needed
When I am alone I will turn eastwards
to live in a brown house at the edge of the sea.
I will inherit storm-cracked apple trees
and the wild goats that crop their meals
close to the shore where the green boat sleeps.
I will eat cheese as fat as the cheeks
of the moon and pare the good red apples
as thin as fingernails with no-one to complain.
I will drink sour wine saved from a communion years ago,
and wash it down with water drawn from somewhere secret.
I will not cook and no-one will ask me to.
I will buy bread from the grocer’s van
once a week along with tins that open easily.
I will leave the fish alone, unbothered by a hook,
and if someone visits accidentally I will ask that intruder to go.
I will watch my face grow pursed and thin in the mirror
of the stream while my hair grows thick
as brambles. I will turn pebbles to find precious little.
I will stuff my mouth with sun when it’s hot,
and on cold mornings I will ask the tide for answers.
Charles is from Castlemilk in Glasgow. He studied English Literature at the University of Edinburgh and is currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University Belfast. His published work includes Aye ok (Speculative Books, 2020) and As If (Fallow Media, 2021).
Aw it takes is a wee fuck the polis n a night ae excitement is on:
the chase, navigatin side streets n gable ends, hidin in bushes,
under motors, behind wheelie bins. We get up close so they cin see us
then we’re away again wae another fuck the polis between pantin breaths.
They’ve sent fur back-up, a second van tae negotiate as its gettin dark,
but we know the scheme better than they dae, or ever will,
n we map it wae ease – the school, the wee shop, the tree swing,
the bought hooses, ma granny’s hoose, ma pal’s aunty’s hoose, the lane.
We’ve took a break in a close. They approach it n we’re oot
the back door n er the fences like hurdles, athletes fur the buzz.
Before ye know it the chopper’s oot n the searchlight shines
like a Hollywood premiere – we’re the stars ae Catch Me If You Can
but they canny, n we’ve just slipped intae ma pal’s hoose fur a drink,
changed oor tracky taps n skip hats cover oor heids. Incognito.
Watch this. We’re walkin right doon the street right past the polis
casual as, no givin a fuck, n ma pal turns roon n says awright officers
wit yees been up tae the night?