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NORMAN BISSELL

Isle of Luing

I was born in Glasgow and have lived and worked on the Isle of Luing since 2007. My poetry collection Slate, Sea and Sky: A Journey from Glasgow to the Isle of Luing, with photographs by Oscar Marzaroli, and my novel Barnhill about George Orwell’s final years on Jura and elsewhere, are published by Luath Press. I received a Creative Scotland award in 2022 to research and write my creative non-fiction book Living on an Island, Expressing the Earth which will come out later this year.

My poetry, essays, book and music reviews have been widely published and received national press and BBC Radio Scotland news coverage. I have worked with local communities to produce poems and other suitable text for interpretation panels on the Oban seafront, at the Islay Chaluim Chille Centre and for the Oban to Fort William cycling and walking route. I have given readings and talks at many festivals and cultural events including Celtic Connections, Changin’ Scotland, the Nairn Book and Arts Festival, the Festival of the Sea, Glasgow’s Aye Write! Book Festival, Edinburgh’s Ceilidh Culture, the Edinburgh International Book Festival and StAnza International Poetry Festival.

I have provided poetry workshops to primary pupils and performed my poems with musicians and singers. My interest in geopoetics and the work of the Scottish poet and thinker Kenneth White led me to edit and write the Introduction to Coast to Coast, Interviews and Conversations 1985-1995 by Kenneth White and co-edit and contribute to Grounding a World: Essays on the work of Kenneth White published by Alba Editions. I am the Director of the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics and lead editor of its online journal Stravaig. See www.geopoetics.org.uk. My poem Slate, Sea and Sky inspired a musical composition for brass band by composer Liz Lane and artwork by Jacqui Jones.

I graduated MA Hons in philosophy and history from the University of Glasgow and was a principal teacher of history at Braidhurst High School in Motherwell and an EIS Area Officer. In 2010 I was awarded the Fellowship of the Educational Institute of Scotland ‘for signal service to education’. I have been involved in efforts to make life on Luing more sustainable and to reverse its population decline. As Vice-Chairman of the Isle of Luing Community Trust from 2008 to 2017, I was a leading contributor to its capital and revenue fund-raising of £1.3 million which enabled the Atlantic Islands Centre to be built in Cullipool Conservation Village where I live. It opened as a community hub and visitor centre in 2015 and won 2 national awards and 1 Argyll award. As the Trust's Events Convener, I ran a programme of theatre, music, literature and talks to help sustain it and am joint owner of Luing's only shop & Post Office.

I can provide talks and creative workshops on George Orwell and Nineteen Eighty-Four, geopoetics, Kenneth White, creative writing and haiku walking. I intend to provide short courses on these topics on Luing later this year. My website is at www.normanbissell.com.

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