About me

Now I’ve (hopefully) got your undivided attention, I’d love the chance to tell you a little bit more about my writing self, my teaching self and what motivates and inspires me.

Inking the pages of my ‘Dare to Write’ (yes I do) notebook in St Mary’s Cemetery, Whitby, which overlooks the sea. Photo credit: Kim McDermottroe.

Where to start… hmmm… I’ve always enjoyed stories for as long as I can remember. Nah. Boring. How about this… one of the best memories I have of creative writing is being asked to write an imagined letter from the perspective of Mr Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet. I loved this challenge because a) it invited me to respond to a novel I loved (who doesn’t love Pride and Prejudice?) and b) it invited me to use my knowledge of voice and character and step inside the mind of another human being. Metaphorically of course. It would be just as viscerally messy in Darcy’s brain as anyone else’s. How did he feel at a given point in time? How would he express these emotions? Which words would he be able to say, and perhaps more importantly, not say? I remember reading my letter out to the class (yes I’ve gone as far back as school, sorry!) and feeling a huge wave of anxiety release itself from my body when I got a round of applause and a few “wow”s. I didn’t realise it at the time but I loved sharing my writing as much as I loved, well, the writing part of the writing.

If you’ve heard enough (I don’t blame you) and just want to know the 7 things about me I’m quite proud of writing-wise, here they are. If not, skip this and move on to the next section (oooh, remember those Choose Your Own Adventure stories?):

  • Successful recipient of multiple Arts Council Awards: Rare Birds as a Research and Development grant to write the collection and then to create a musicalised adaptation with a West End Team of creatives, and Berth to create a staged adaptation with Vivid Theatre
  • Recipient of Award-Winning Finalist in the International Book Awards for Rare Birds – Voices of Holloway Prison, 202o
  • Selected to attend Spring Masterclass tutored by Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke at Ty Newydd Writers’ Centre, 2017, and received mentoring from Glyn Maxwell
  • Commissioned as Poet in Schools to work alongside Michael Rosen in conjunction with T-Junction Poetry Festival, 2018
  • Invited as researcher for the University of Chester and Lapidus, investigating the effects of Covid-19 on writing for wellbeing groups
  • Established writing for wellbeing initiative Pen Power™ in 2016, working with diverse community populations
  • Invited to present my Rare Birds project at the Houses of Parliament

I won’t bore you with my qualifications here (they’re the credits at the end of the page if you survive that long) but I’ve spent many years studying and practising writing and then sharing what I have learned with my students. Working with voice excites me. I have long been inspired by poets and playwrights who create strong voice-driven characters who are so sensitively written that you can hear them whispering to you long after the performance has finished. I first read and watched The Glass Menagerie about 25 years ago but ever-so-often I hear the voice of Amanda Wingfield sounding out ‘chew chew’ and ‘mastication’ when I’m having my dinner (worrying, I know). But, thanks to Tennessee Williams’ clever crafting, I also feel the loneliness and pain behind her words in the play as she struggles with the paradox of wanting the best for her children but pushing them so hard to achieve that they don’t want it for themselves. For me empathy is essential to creating believable characters. In fact it should be a requirement on every creative writing-related job role. And actually, practising empathy is good all round. Imagine the world from someone else’s point of view, as Atticus says ‘climb into his skin and walk around in it’. It can help to broaden our personal perspective on life, and perhaps lead us less into the hasty judgement of others. It can also be fun. Edwin Morgan stepped into the world of an actor’s codpiece (or perhaps that’s not so fun… you decide) to write a dramatic monologue from its point of view. Can inanimate objects tell us something about ourselves? Definitely! I once wrote a poem in the voice of a ship’s anchor (one of Titanic’s in fact) which was paraded through the streets on its way to be fitted to the ship. It gathered quite an audience. So I imagined it as a pantomime dame basking in this short-lived fame and glory. There is always a refection of the human in the inanimate or animal. Want to read the poem? Here you go…

Anchor

(One of three made for Titanic - SAVED)
 
It took twenty horses
to lug me
through the shipyard
on the back of a cart
like a fifteen-and-a-half ton
pantomime dame.
 
My spitting image was weighed
on the other side of the bow:
two fat men in drag;
we felt as though no-one
could ever
bring us down.


Poem from Berth - Voices of the Titanic, published by Bradshaw Books, 2012
Titanic Anchor being pulled by 20 horses on its way from Netherton to Dudley railway station, 1911. Photo credit: Dudley Borough Council.

So, you’ve probably gathered by now that I’m interested in history. Yes! So much so in fact that I’ve written two dramatic poetry collections which use historical subject-matter to create a re-imagining of the stories. The wonderful Margaret Atwood inspires me here when she says…

What can the past tell us? In and of itself, it tells us nothing. We have to be listening first, before it will say a word; and even so, listening means telling, and then retelling.

Margaret Atwood ‘In Search of Alias Grace’
The American Historical Review, 1998

A lot of the project work I’ve done (see Project Portfolio if you have time) works on the premise of creative re-imaginings, using historical information, personal and social histories, evidence from the archives to tell those stories we perhaps all thought we knew but in truth we knew them only from a limited perspective. I’m informed by Umberto Eco’s theories of the ‘open work’ in these collections, as my aim is always to invite a conversation with the reader or audience about the subject-matter being communicated. Using multiple voices (or to be fancy, a polyphonic approach) enables this more readily than having a single authorial narrator (which quite frankly can sometimes sound a bit stuffy). My latest project Rare Birds – Voices of Holloway Prison has been the best example from my repertoire to date of this kind of work. Look at what Angela Topping, writer and reviewer for London Grip magazine said…

This is an astonishing collection, compelling and well-crafted. Scott’s poems are scalpel- sharp in exposing the suffering of the prisoners and the shocking inequalities of life for them.

If you only read one poetry book this year, make it this one. You will be glad you did.

Angela Topping for London Grip
(see Published Works page for full review)

I use my writing projects to shape themed workshops which I facilitate in educational, private and community settings. These are often in conjunction with my writing for wellbeing initiative Pen Power as I believe that there are therapeutic benefits to be gained from writing in the imagined voice of someone (or indeed something… argh, the codpiece!) else as a form of poetry ventriloquism (no dummies involved). They are also a source of inspiration in my role as Lecturer in Creative Writing at Arts University Bournemouth as I take a leading role in the delivery of the poetry and scriptwriting units and offer support to students as they prepare to enter the writing life (for real, and it can be very scary, quite honestly).

And, being a ‘lower-case’ drama queen, I love reading and performing my work. I do this all over the country (and world… just invite me and I’ll come) and have headlined at venues ranging from the lofty heights of The Brontë Parsonage to a side-room in the Beehive pub (the second example is actually equally lofty – gorgeous old building with high ceilings, real ales and a roaring fire).

Photo credits: clockwise from top left: Pete Bingham, Tony Scott, Kirsten Luckins, Oliver Boito and Kev Howard

Inspired by the many writing for wellbeing workshops I have attended and facilitated, which encourage the sharing of personal experiences, life’s transitions and challenges, I also enjoy writing poems in my own authentic voice. In fact I am building up enough for another collection in the not-so-distant future. Here’s one that made it onto the Places of Poetry map in 2019…

Sunbathing at 45 Degrees
 
On Chesil Beach where 
layers of shingle make 
sloped steps to the sea,
smoothed over years of 
saltwater love, and spill
into the laughing waves.
 
Between the whiskers of 
fishing rods and the curve
of seagulls' beaks, I'm 
sunbathing at 45 degrees.
 
A mirage turns the beach
emotional to either side
but here, at this angle,
facing the stones,
things are measured.
 
They welcome my shape,
easing into their landscape.
I feel their multiformity
and sameness. Most share
a blush of a colour like rust.
 
All are slick as manipulation. 
I worry them one by one 
between palm and fingers. 
They know what it's like 
to be shaped by something 
else. But they rub well together, 
chattering in the slide down 
to the froth's edge.
 
The wind bites the back 
of my neck and whips these 
pages, reminding me I'm
just a visitor to this strip,
sunbathing at 45 degrees.  

I think I’ve released everything I wanted to share with you for now but rest assured new thoughts will crop up and I plan to share these via a blog connected to this website. So watch this space! If you have a little more browsing time, don’t forget to check out the other pages to find out more about my published works, project portfolio, writing for wellbeing and other general shenanigans. If you don’t, then I will kindly point out that your emergency exits are here, here, and here. (evil laugh)

Still here? I’m impressed by your perseverance. You should be a writer if you’re not already (which I suspect you are).

Qualifications and Credentials

Certified Applied Poetry Facilitator awarded by the International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy (USA) under the supervision of poetry therapist Victoria Field, 2020

PhD in Creative Writing by Existing Works awarded University of Sunderland, 2015

  • Thesis title: Screams underwater : submerging the authorial voice : a polyphonic approach to retelling the known narrative in Berth ; Voices of the Titanic: a poetry collection by Natalie Scott. Read my thesis via the British Library site here.

PGCE (Post-Compulsory) teaching qualification, University of Central Lancashire, 2007

MA in Creative Writing, University of Leeds, 2001

BA (Hons) English with Drama, Lancaster University, 2000

And for managing it this far, here is your reward… a selfie of me and my cool cat-child Fizban. Just look at his eyebrow whiskers! And the photo is 100% real, before you ask.

Love Natalie x


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