Tom Leonard

Tom Leonard’s poems are popular and challenging – satirical, experimental or even surreal. Wildly funny or savagely disturbing his work speaks for human compassion (his most recent collection is called Being a Human Being) and for the necessity ‘not to be complicit’ in a world that is saturated with sound bites, social inequality and corporate flannel.

..... Leonard continues to be angrier, funnier and more insightful than many voices on the contemporary poetic scene. Even the surliest of readers will find it hard to resist the blend of subtlety, honesty and emotion that pervades his work. It is a testament to the many voices and stylistic bravura of Tom Leonard, all of which confirm his importance as a writer, both within Scotland and far beyond.      
Matt Maguire. Review of Access to Silence.


Gerry Cambridge

Gerry has published four full-length poetry collections: The Shell House, Madame Fifi’s Farewell, Aves, and Nothing But Heather, a collection of poems accompanying his own wildlife photographs, written while Writer in Residence at Brownsbank Cottage, Hugh MacDiarmid’s former home. Gerry also plays a mean Harmonica!!!

One of the most promising and original of modern Scottish poets...a master of form and subtlety (George Mackay Brown)

Gerry Cambridge captures the essence of people (as of birds) as well as any poet now writing. (Anne Stevenson)

In this new book by Gerry  Cambridge is like a pint of Scottish ale in the hot and dusty Sahara. In Cambridge’s poems, neither consummate skill or deep feeling have gone out of style. (X.J. Kennedy)

Gerry performed at the Bakehouse on 6th December 2008.


Christine DeLuca

Christine DeLuca is published both nationally and internationally, and writes in both Shetlandic and English. Her first two collections won The Shetland Literary Prize and in 2004 Makkin Sooth Eshaness, won the Rhoda Bulter Prize for Shetland Dialect. Poems have been translated into Swedish, Latvian, Polish, Austrian-German, French, Italian, Welsh and English!

“Her Shetland poems, written in the beautiful Scots of those islands - a blend of Old Scots and Norn - seemed to hanker for a simple and pure way of life which was marvellously evoked in image and sound .... They are poems with a sense of place, sympathy, commitment to language, the urge to celebrate life itself.” Douglas Lipton

Christine DeLuca performed at the Bakehouse, Saturday June 30th 2007



Da sea, hjarta

Da sea‘s haand trivvels da trimmlin limb
o laand: daily shö wylcomes his comins
an gyaains; der sochs an quwilks aboot
der secret tryst; a rivin an lettin go
athin der makkin o blaahöle or a gyo.
Sometimes he‘s filsket an höves himsel
far far intil her, till shö‘s sabbin, plötin.
Lang micht he seek her oot, lang meld
wi her, ta keep her young an vital.
Sho‘s fairest dere ithin his touch;
her fine sides buskit wi banks-flooers,
bouquets o aertbark, violet an squill.
Shö‘ll age peerie-wyes, lowse his grip
apön her; lippen a mair gentle lover.

The sea, my love

The sea‘s hand gentles the trembling limb
of land: daily she welcomes his comings
and goings; their sighs and swallowings
about their secret tryst; a tearing and letting go
within their making of blowhole or a gyo.*
Sometimes he‘s spirited an heaves himself
far far inside her, till she‘s soaking, pleading.
Long might he seek her out, long consort
with her, to keep her young and vital.
She‘s fairest there within his touch;
her fine sides be-decked with thrift,
bouquets of tormentil, violet and squill.
She‘ll age gently, loose his grip upon her;
expect a more gentle lover.

Christine DeLuca

*gyo is a steep, narrow rocky inle


Libby Houston

Libby Houston is a true survivor from the Age of Beats. Since first performing in a cellar under the 1961 Edinburgh Festival, she has read her poetry from Brisbane to Bruton, Solihull to Stuttgart. She toured with the avant garde band Earth House in the 80s, has sung her work to settings by the great Dutch surrealist Louis Lehmann and pioneered the concept of pop-up poetry. Her most recent collection Cover of Darkness (Slow Dancer Press) contains most of her work of the old century.

“ original voice …..” A.S. Byatt

Libby Houston performed at the Bakehouse, Saturday August 2nd 2008.






The road to the well‘s due east. OK. Lit
low, walking the afternoon light now, down the hill,
up again, switchback, pond below, blond banners –

nothing but pleasant, this and us, thus; outspread
red campion and meadowsweet on a like late
weekend break with their latin in the hedge flanks,
blue clouds – OK. And now converging wood,
warm gate set with lichen. We fall in, skirt a soft
edging till the dark path at the elbow, sodden ground –

When I found the place last time I left something,
something, feather or flowers – a coin? – lip-service, cardboard,
2D, cheap play, little pool with no one at home, deep
brown unsure like lazy smoke. This time I drank.

OK. Stirring dregs, dust. Stirred? Stirring what slow – wishes? –
smoke, in any of us? More separate than stars as we fit
the photo joking among birch trees, bramble and ferns.

© Libby Houston


Alan Riach

Alan Riach is a poet and Professor of Scottish Literature at Glasgow University, and President of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies. His books of poems include Clearances (2001), First & Last Songs (1995), An Open Return (1991) and This Folding Map (1990).
Who better to help us celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns!

This is the stuff they’ve been waiting for. The mature Riach. The approachable, humane, bloody good writer who knows what has to be said and when to say it and when not to say it and – more than that – who has something to say and has to say it. - Kevin Ireland

Alan Riach’s writing ... gives a deeper meaning to everything we see with great humour and a hard spiritual edge.
- Scotland on Sunday Books of the Year


Alan Franks

Alan is a poet, playwright, novelist, Times feature writer, diarist, humourist, musician and winner of four major poetry competitions in the last three years!

‘...(Alan’s) poems show a great ear, exude a terrific confidence and imaginative freedom - and a reckless, romantic drama that you’d have to have a heart of stone to remain unmoved by.” Don Paterson

‘Franks’ songs are wonderfully true, complex, addictive things. I wish I could think, write and play like him....This is the real thing I promise.’ Jake Thackeray

Alan performed at the Bakehouse on Saturday April 28th 2007 as part of an evening of poetry and songs to launch Markings 24


There is an Absence

There is an absence in the gracious grid
Of avenues and spacious squares which form
The basis of the old town; nothing to do
With the plaques that gathered to proliferate
And mark the lives of great, pre-occupied men
Once housed here while their minds were out in the fields
Of physics, engineering and the arts,
Nor with the way that departed people go
As the shades of them weather further from the mauve.
No, what‘s missing here and, frankly, thank
The Lord, is something to commemorate
Our passing through, that day we lost the path
At the edge of the park because of our great distraction,
Because of the greenery turning to grains of sand,
Then vanishing into the pinched waist of winter.
It stands at the verge of the square on its plinth of grass
And is a single vertical rip in the air,
A rough and hand-made tear which strikes the eye
As being as shrill and modern as tomorrow,
Yet marks the spot of the soundless English scream.

Alan Franks


I wonder when the plain taste of this water
Will pass for the last time, not to repeat itself,
And the glass tumbler will finally leave
My lips unparted by its heavy rim.

Forty years since he went without a word,
Collapsing in a startled stranger‘s arms,
The appearance of comedy played out on a platform
Of the station in a northern conference town.

I wonder when I will fold away the letter,
The one he must have sent that autumn morning
And which arrived the day after I heard
From the modern but still inadequate headmaster.

Forty days of shock, said my mother‘s doctor,
Take a couple of these last thing at night.
I wonder when the plain taste of this water
Will pass for the last time, not to repeat itself.

Drinking and drying have their own convergence,
Making current shapes which shed their forms.
At every drought the spires of rubble show
From the small town which the reservoir overran.

I wonder when the uncovering of sadness
Will break its habit of bringing into range
A shallow dish of something slurping sideways
And the clunk of cutlery on refectory wood.

Time out of town still wears its blameless face
As sheep sharpen the crescent blade of the hill
And headwaters muster underneath the ground
And streams shift slowly into stone.

In the pavement puddle almost as thin
As the skin on a cup of tea the petrol rainbow
Is standing at my shoulder while the wobbly
Moonface waits and waits to recompose.

Salt and woodgrain, rain again and guttering,
Trees divesting, drain leaf litanies.
I wonder when the plain taste of this water
Will pass for the last time, not to repeat itself.

© Alan Franks

More of the poetry of Alan Franks, as well as prose and interviews with him are featured in Markings 24