I was shocked and saddened, like the Scottish literary world in general, to learn back in February that Gavin Wallace, the head of literature at Creative Scotland, had died.
I didn’t know Gavin well, but I can say with certainty that The North End of the Possible would not be the book it is without the support and encouragement that he gave. For one thing, he made sure that Creative Scotland funded Kristin Linklater’s voice workshop at Cove Park, which was crucial for me in breaking open the voice of that book.
Cove Park is where I met Gavin, on the first night of Kristin’s workshop, and I will never forget the enthusiasm he expressed for The Ambulance Box. I was also at the start of my writer’s bursary, and, when I met up with him a month or two later, he was obviously gratified to hear how the Cove Park experience had led to a greater confidence in the writing I was doing. That encouragement, I think, is part of what eventually led me to be able to write the poem “Unquiet Time” from the new book, which is my longest original poem.
It saddens me that Gavin didn’t see The North End of the Possible, but I am very pleased to see that a new annual fellowship has been created in his memory. It is a most fitting way to remember a man who did many times over for other writers what he did for me and more.