Award-winning writer appointed to new BBC post

Rachel McCrum, left. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Rachel McCrum, left. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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AN award-winning writer based in the Capital has been appointed BBC Scotland’s first-ever poet in residence.

Rachel McCrum, a well-known figure on the Scottish poetry scene, has been chosen for the prestigious post from among more than 70 applicants.

Her three-month residency, established through a partnership between BBC Scotland and the Scottish Poetry Library on Canongate, will see her make her debut on the 
airwaves on Thursday, which is National Poetry Day.

The winner of the 2012 International Women’s Day Slam, Edinburgh, and the 2013 Calum McDonald Award, she will be making regular appearances on a host of programmes, including Janice Forsyth’s flagship culture show plus workshops in schools.

She said: “I love language and I’m really excited to be taking this passion to another level and to be sharing it with people across the country. Scotland has a great oral tradition of storytelling and I think poetry provides a way for people – and by that I mean all sorts of people – to reflect their own experiences in their own communities in our modern world.”

Born in Donaghadee, Northern Ireland, she graduated from Oxford University and has lived in New Zealand and Manchester, before moving to 
Edinburgh five years ago.

Ms McCrum, 33, is one of two poets behind the hit cabaret night Rally and Broad, which she launched three years ago in Edinburgh with Jenny Lindsay.

Liz Lochhead, Don Paterson, Luke Wright, Hannah Silva, Ross Sutherland, Alan Bissett and Harry Giles are among those to have made appearances since then.

Ms Forsyth said the BBC had seen an “astonishing level of interest in this opportunity”, with more than 70 applicants for the 
residency.

She added: “Rachel’s brief for the residency is to explore communities across Scotland – from football fans, migrants and refugees to urban and rural groups – and to reflect on current and topical issues. I believe that Rachel will also bring a great deal of freshness and creativity to the role, revealing poetry as a truly exciting art form.”

Robyn Marsack, director of the Scottish Poetry Library, said: “The SPL is delighted that BBC Scotland is recognising the lively and thought-provoking contribution poetry makes to the cultural life of Scotland by appointing a poet in residence.

“Rachel McCrum is a generous poetry presenter as well as a distinctive lyrical voice, and I am sure that she will make poems and friends for poetry wherever she goes in the next three months.”

john.connell@edinburghnews.com