Featured writer – Ruth Aylett

We are delighted to welcome Ruth Aylett, who maintains our web-site and initiated the calendar of events on the home page, among other things, as our Featured Writer and Committee Member this issue. Ruth is a fine and sensitive poet with an unusual background for a poet, as she explains in her biog. below. You can read her tender, and deeply moving poem Birthday below.

Ruth was born in London and has moved steadily north, living in Sheffield and Manchester and then arriving in Edinburgh in 2004.

Her day job is unusual for a poet – she teaches and researches AI and robotics at Heriot-Watt University. She appeared with Sarah the Poetic Robot in the 2012 Free Fringe and poems on science and robots appear in her work. Her work also reflects her belief that ‘another world is possible’. Last year her first pamphlet Handfast, written jointly with Beth McDonough of Dundee, was published by Mothers’ Milk. It deals with the impact of loved ones with dementia or autism on their families. She has also been published by New Writing Scotland, Interpreter’s House and Bloodaxe Books among others. See more about her writing here.

On joining the committee Ruth writes:

When the FWS asked for more people to help out with committee activities last year, one of the requests was for help with the website. Because of my technical background I knew I’d find this relatively easy, especially as the design had already been laid down. I really wanted to help the FWS succeed in its role of bringing together Scottish writers and poets. This is how I became a Committee member, where I am still learning how to contribute to the FWS mission to make the written and spoken word available to the public of Scotland, with respect for diversity and recognition of additional support needs.

I started a Spoken Word in Scotland calendar on the front of the FWS website and one benefit of adding entries for this is getting a better appreciation of the amazing range and scope of spoken word activity now going on: launches, open mics, workshops, slams and lots more. I am keen that both page and performance poetry get their dues and see them as very much complementary. It’s great to see FWS drawing people into performance with events such as Sudden Fame.

Here is Ruth’s poem from Handfast:


A day of sun and cloud.
The same question again
and again “Is it my birthday?
Who will come?”
Who would you like? we say.
Clouds deepening, looks like rain.


You invite the pharmacist
from your first ever job
the man who’d just lost his wife
and shouted at you so much
you dropped the jar
he’d asked you to fetch.


You invite all those young men
Canadian bomber pilots
birds of paradise in
workaday Somerset
they were so soon gone
nothing but grief to love.


And the Indian officer who
bought you wonderful cloth
printed with scenes of France
Your mother told you off
forbade you to write
now you’ll be able to apologise.


A shower clatters on the window,
candle flames on your cake flicker
in the breath of your absent guests.
Uninvited but here, there’s us.
And when you see your two sons
that brilliant smile reaches your eyes.


© Ruth Aylett 2017

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