Published: 25/11/2015 12:04 - Updated: 25/11/2015 12:19

Poet Laureate moved to verse by Highland writing centre

Moniack Mhor
Moniack Mhor

POET Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has joined the long list of writers inspired by Moniack Mhor writing centre near Kiltarlity.

A poem inspired by and named for Moniack Mhor and written by Duffy, who returns this year to tutor a poetry course, is included in the latest brochure for the centre.

Other leading writers who will lead courses at Moniack include long-standing Highland resident Michel Faber, who will help lead a week long course for the first time and will also attend a special screening of the acclaimed adaptation of his debut novel Under The Skin, and talk about differences between book and film.

Other tutors leading courses in 2016 will include award-winning nature writer Helen Macdonald, author of H is For Hawk, Danish writer Jens Christian Grondahl, Zoe Strachan, travel writer Rory MacLean, Mairi Hedderwick, creator of Katie Morag, and naturalist Sir John Lister-Kaye.

Authors making guest appearances include Alasdair Gray, Helen Dunmore, Christopher Brookmyre and Andrew O’Hagan, while internationally renowned Inverness-born forensic scientist Professor Sue Black will join award-winning writers Dreda Say Mitchell and Simon Brett to help inject some authenticity into crime fiction.

Songwriters will also have the chance to work on their craft with Boo Hewerdine, Edwina Hayes and guest Martin Stephenson.

This is Moniack Mhor’s second year of independence, following the end of its association with the Arvon Foundation, which manages other writing centres in England and Wales.

Now one of Creative Scotland’s regularly funded organisations, the centre is also exploring partnerships with several other organisations and has launched a number of new awards to support writers at the early stages of their careers.

"I’m thrilled by the spread of courses for 2016 and I strongly feel that each course, whether fiction or poetry, complements the next," centre director Rachel Humphries said.

"We’ve seen an increasing number of people attending more than once in 2015 and the new programme should provide a progressive approach to supporting individual writing ambitions. We’re also able to continue to offer bursaries to support courses.

Carol Ann Duffy returns as a tutor.
Carol Ann Duffy returns as a tutor.

"We’ve been met with a huge degree of support in the early stages of programming and some of the finest writers in Scotland and the UK have welcomed the opportunity of tutoring with us with open arms.

"This programme is a testament of the centre going from strength to strength. I’m excited by what lies ahead’

In the year since Moniack Mhor relaunched itself over 250 aspiring writers have come through the doors of the converted croft in the Scottish Highlands. Participants have learned about plotting from bestselling crime writer Val McDermid, children’s writers gained advice from former children’s laureates, three award winners have been given time, space and tuition to improve their writing, and local writers have been better supported with a series of one-off events to illuminate other aspects of the writing life with agents, publishers and journalists.

Programmer Cynthia Rogerson added that the 2016 programme includes many writers who are new to Moniack, including Dreda Say Mitchell, Rafaella Barker and Naomi Wood.

"We’re experimenting with some new genres, including illustrating and writing and a walking retreat," she continued.

"In addition to our core residential courses, we’re running a series of day courses focusing on poetry, playwriting and fiction with Rebel Inc veterans Kevin Williamson and Laura Hird."

• Moniack Mhor is a residential writing centre 14 miles from Inverness. As well as five day residential writing courses, the centre runs one off events, day courses and works in partnership with other organisations to help people to enjoy creative writing in all its forms.

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