Hi friends! As I’m sure you were already aware, today is St. Columba’s annual feast day, a time to remember and commemorate the life, the legend, of one of Scotland’s formative historical figures. As I’m even more sure you were already aware, I’ve been working with Historic Environment Scotland over the last few months as writer-in-residence, participating in their ongoing Celebrating St. Columba project. You may have already seen the post I wrote about the project for HES’ blog, or the series of free poetry workshops I’ve been running as part of my residency, but today – to mark this momentous celebration of everyone’s favourite 6th-century abbot – we’re pulling out all the stops. By which I mean publishing some poems for you to read.
Specifically, it’s a sequence of poems which engage with Columba’s legacy. Each poem is linked to a specific historic site somewhere in Scotland with a connection to St. Columba – from the cave where he rested after his tempestuous journey over from Ireland, to the cathedral where his relics are rumoured to be buried – and each explores different attitudes, approaches, etc, towards the multifarious and many-layered stories that have proliferated around St. Columba over the last several centuries. If you want to read those poems for yourself (and I hope you do!), you can find them right here.
There’s more than just the poetry, though, if you can believe it – HES have also put together a digital map of Scotland over on their site, which you can use to learn a little more about the aforementioned locations associated with Columba. It’s a useful resource, and a great opportunity to read up on a fascinating figure from Scotland’s early years. You can use the map to browse my poems by location, too, in case you’d rather chart your own course on this poetic journey across Scotland’s historic landscape.
So, yep, that’s that. I’ve got three of those writing workshops I mentioned still to come, and quite possibly some other fun surprises, but this collection is sort of the Main Thing I’ve been working on as part of this residency, so I really hope you enjoy it!