Writing

Three Short Paragraphs Concerning  Several Years of Teaching Creative Writing to Prisoners and How it Probably Helped My Writing More Than it Helped Theirs.

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The Prison Art Class Sink – This Is All I Can Show You

“Over the years I have written a great many stories and I still don’t know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances.” John Steinbeck

Six years of questions I couldn’t answer often left me feeling a fraud, a failure.  Why couldn’t I give the prisoners/ students the magical mathematical [x + y = well written story] formula they -and I – wanted? Maybe I should just have scribbled the Steinbeck quote on the black board every morning, rolled up my sleeves, and yelled, “Okay guys, let’s go for it! Let’s take a chance!”

I say ‘we’ because rather than sit behind my increasingly threadbare curtain of  knowledge like Oz the Great and Powerful,  we usually all wrote together, then critique each others work. When we did go for it, well, nine times out of ten, our results were pretty dismal. That’s shite, went the critics around the table. Then, out of the blue, something would appear like some rare bird, to take our breath away.  That’s good! I’d say. How is it good?  the writer would reply, baffled and sceptical and unable to see anything of worth in his own work. And that would lead to a whole other discussion; fascinating, without conclusion, and furthering the disintegration of my curtain of knowledge.

Bedtime Stories for Beginners bw

Writer’s Room. Her Majesty’s Prison

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Writer’s Room. Lyth Arts. Caithness.

Working with men (occasionally women) in a maximum security prison has taught me a huge amount about my own writing and it really deserves more space than I’ve allowed it here. So, if you’d like to read more of my thoughts on the value of creative writing in a prison context, here’s a link to Bed Time Stories For Beginners, a little piece I wrote for Words Work Well: A Bibliotherapy Toolkit: http://wordsworkwellscotland.co.uk/lapidus_tool/e-bed-time-stories-for-beginners/

Page, Stage and Other Platforms

What you see below is a list of work that I’ve written over the years, for a variety of platforms;  stage, articles, literary publications, poetry readings and most recently, a novel. It says, Look I really have spent quite some time writing,  but it says nothing about what I’ve been writing about. On that note, here’s one of many things the great James Baldwin said that feels true:

“Every writer has only one story to tell, and he has to find a way of telling it until the meaning becomes clearer and clearer, until the story becomes at once more narrow and larger, more and more precise, more and more reverberating.”

And here is a list of all the different versions of my one story:

Published Work

  • Blessed Assurance. Novel – Vagabond Voices Books -April 2019
  • A Cat is Not for Christmas – Poem – The Caterpillar /Moth Magazine (Dublin) – December /Winter Edition  2018
  • Bedtime Stories for Beginners –  Creative Writing in Prison – Words Work Well 2015
  • Nuff  – Short Story – Gutter Magazine 2011
  • Goats On The Roof  – Short Story –  Gutter Magazine 2011
  • Mibbly – Short Story  Days Like These – Luath Press 2010
  • Therapist – Monologue – I Confess – Caipercaillie  Press, 2009
  • Last Train – Monologue – I Confess – Caipercaillie Press, 2009
  • Various Articles – Culture City Magazine 1990
  • Various Articles – Scottish Universal Newspapers 1980 81

Performed Work

  • The Monster and Mary Shelley – The Occasion –  Scottish Tour 2018
  • A Thousand and One Antarctic Nights – HMP Shotts 2017
  • The Taking of Zena Charbonne – The Occasion (fka Benchtours) Scottish Tour 2015
  • Tick One Box – Ankur Productions / CCA – 2014
  • Fantoosh – Canny Productions – Edinburgh 2013-18
  • The Forgotten Orchard – (co-writer) Eco Drama – Scottish Tour  2012
  • One Straight Line – A Play A Pie & A Pint – Glasgow 2011
  • To A Bard – Paragon Ensemble – Glasgow 2010
  • Therapist – I Confess – The Arches Theatre 2009
  • Last Train – I Confess – The Arches Theatre 2009
  • Robert Burns Celtic Complex – The Arches Theatre 2006
  • The Tall Ship – Greenock Tall Ship Festival 2002
  • Ranters, Lovers, Chanters – Scottish Folk Ensemble – 1999
  • The Dark Room – For Your Pleasure/ The Arches Theatre 1999
  • Preacher Man – British Council / Kwacha Troupe – Malawi /Zambia/Tanzania 1997
  • Noah Part 1 & 2 – Theatre Urubaru – Tour of Finland / Sweden 1997/98
  • Which? – Which Theatre Co –  North of England Tour 1996

Other Written Work Platforms – Readings etc

  • Poems for Rebel Children – SBT Live Literature – Book Week Scotland  – 2018
  • New Christmas Poems – Friends of the River Kelvin – 2018
  • New Children’s Poems – Kibble Palace, Botanic Gardens – 2016
  • New Poems & Stories – The Story Garden – 2012
  • Poems for Children – The Poetry Post Box – Botanic Garden Glasgow 2004 -10
  • Various Stories – Contributing artist – Snowball – Reeling & Writhing 2011
  • Various Poems – Freight Poetry  – Tchai Ovna – 2011
  • Various Songs – Christmas shows – The Arches  2005 – 2008
  • Poems for Children – SPT Bard on Board (with John Rice) – 2010
  • Toast To The Lassies – A Leonard Cohen Supper – Vital Synz Poetry Soc 2009
  • Various Articles and Reviews – Culture City Magazine 1990
  • Various Local News  – Scottish Universal Newspapers 1979-80
  • Mildly Scurrilous News Reports – Tent Peg Telegraph BB Camp Daily Rag 1977

Further Links to My Writing Work

Scottish Book Trust Live Literature: Author page
http://scottishbooktrust.com/profile-author/17686

Playwrights Studio Scotland: Playwright page
http://www.playwrightsstudio.co.uk/playwrights/stewart-ennis.aspx