Performance Poet & Teaching Artist
Lessons learned in poetry last a lifetime
Freed from the tyranny of the written word...
Anita trained to be a professional ballet dancer, but before that she fell in love with poetry. Handed a copy of ‘Scots Wha Hae’ by her primary teacher to learn for a class competition, Anita found it nearly impossible to absorb due to severe, undiagnosed dyslexia. Undeterred, Anita asked her mother to recite the poem, so she could memorize it. She learned the poem, won the competition and with that, was hooked.
Freed from the tyranny of the written word, Anita developed her love of poetry with the help of her teacher, Mrs Doran, who fed her one poem to recite and perform per week and would have undoubtedly been very proud when Anita was made Stirling Makar in 2012.
From writing poetry, Anita quickly found her way to performance. Challenged by the lack of venues in Scotland, with others she founded Big Word and Edinburgh’s Bongo Club, which celebrates its 25th birthday this year.
Anita has performed her poetry on Scottish television and BBC Radio Scotland; her international appearances include the NuYorican and the Bowery poetry cafes in New York.
Anita has been using poetry as a creative practice for several years, working in education, local government, including Aberdeen Edinburgh, Renfrewshire, Stirling, Glasgow & East Lothian Councils. She is a founding partner of CONFAB which in 2016 delivered the first Scottish Youth Poetry Slam. She recently become an Engagement Artist with the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, and has presented development workshops for the Wellcome Trust.
In Calgary, Anita attended an Keith Johnstone Loose Moose Theatre Company international improvisation school for storytellers, focusing on “unfreezing the petrified imagination”. She has studied with the Goat Island Theatre Company of Chicago, where she learned the importance of establishing practices that enable and sustain creativity.
Scots Wha Hae
Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led;
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victory!
Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour;
See approach proud Edward's power—
Chains and slavery!
Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward's grave!
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!
Wha for Scotland's king and law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or freeman fa',
Let him follow me!
By oppression's woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!
Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!—
Let us do or die!
Anita is a pioneering performance poet and visionary teaching artist; Co-founder of Scottish Youth Poetry Slam. A former Stirling Makar (2012-15), she has been credited with “Kick-starting an interest in poetry, not seen since Huge McDermott,” (Scotsman). hail as Edinburgh Dorothy Parker and performance poetry's, Jannis Joppland. She has appeared on TV and BBC Radio and has performed at Glastonbury Festival and as well as internationally at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, the Bowery (New York) She has appeared alongside Ron Whitehead (beat poet), Bob Holman (Grand Slam Master) and Shane Koyczan (World Slam Champion). Anita has also created a CD 'Bare to the Bones', with natural sound-scapes and film poems with multi-discipline compositions, combining natural sounds with poetry and music. A collection of her poetry, 'Jane', has been published by Luath Press in 2005.