Recipe for joy – a collaborative poem

The Makar Challenge! This piece was written collaboratively on Facebook on April 5th 2020 in real time as members responded to the following instructions from our Makar Finola Scott: 

  1. You can only submit one line so make it count, by
    posting it in the comments. This must be original and your own work.
  2. You should use recipe words – stir, fold etc
  3. But no actual foods should be used.
  4. Abstract concepts like friendship, kindness etc
    are welcome
  5. As are concrete things like budding tulips.

And here is the poem that resulted 59 comments later:

In a large bowl, add one cup of fresh cherry blossom to 500mls of friends’ laughter and stir well. Leave to marinade for the length of time

it takes to sing your favourite song.
Strain the mixture through a fine sieve to obtain the pink essence of friendship.

Flour a board with absent smiles, knead gently and allow time to rest. Cover with primrose petals, placing each with a goodwill wish.

The flour was stirred into the kindness of humanity; add a teaspoon of spicy wit, and a generous handful of wisdom. Bring in to the

mix, a cup of empathy, and let the ingredients fix. Blend in a rainbow of hope. Season well; a pinch of experience, a gentle of time, joy to

taste. Whip up some happiness. As you spin round the block three times, wave to your neighbours two metres apart. Season to your

own taste as everyone’s dish is their own. The joy of life’s recipe is there is no set ingredients.
Gently fold in friends’ laughter as this will

ensure a lightness to your day. Add expectation little by little, or the mixture will curdle. Knead gently, set aside to prove

Say thanks to the ones making the cake.
Sprinkle with hope and Love and Joy.
Serve at once, or store for later; Joy lasts

eternal. Let the compassion rise for an hour bake and then serve first to self and then to others and consume joyfully. Then do it all

over again! Fold in full notes and phrases of dawn chorus and good dashes of springtime sun. Stir well and add as much hope as you

have to hand. Rub your techie ignorance into your need for connection, season well with native wit…and bake a delicious cake of new

video chat. Kneading birdsong into your day, add a pinch of hope, a sprinkle of goodness and essence of kind. This will truly be a

delightful treat for all to find. Spread far and wide, to bus drivers, posties, neighbours, and nurses, on doorsteps, window sills, homeless

shelters, empty park benches. Stirring up memories of how you looked in a Spring cotton dress, remember to share equally. Mix in some

essence of nature, cherry blossom and petals of spring flowers, ten drops each of Sense, Rhythm and Blues for balance…first whisking

to a froth.Allow the mixture to rest for a few moments…then add a few drops of essence of pure love .. stirring gently…. Enjoy.

Finally, spread it thick and far around the world, add cat purrs and baby laughs to sprinkle over everyone like fairy dust. Discard

seeds of hurt, soak sadness in strong, grateful spirit, cover with cloth of certain hope and leave overnight. Consume with a mindful relish

and plentiful gratitude. Allow the ingredients of generosity and love to penetrate your senses in order to share them bountifully.

Serve broken into a praline of bite-sized pieces,dusted with the sweet passing of time…
This is your recipe for joy.

Horse Power at Heriot-Watt

davThe FWS pamphlet Horse Power, a celebration of James Watt on the 200th anniversary of his death, came to Heriot-Watt University on September 26th. HWU is partly named after the great engineering innovator, and three FWS members, two of them HWU members of staff, were invited to read from Horse Power to a large audience at the annual Stake-holders meeting.

Patrick Cottrell introduced the pamphlet and the two Horse Power readings already carried out, one at the Edgebaston church where Watt is buried and the other on Glasgow Green, where he is reputed to have had his central insight about improving stem engines.

Jenifer Harley, the FWS convenor, read her piece In Your Name, followed by Ruth Aylett, who read hers, Full Steam Ahead.  There was a FWS stall, pictured above, and a very positive reception.


Patchwork Poem 2018 – join FWS to contribute!

After the success of our 2017 Patchwork Poem and also to mark National Poetry Day 2018 (celebrated on Thursday 4th October), the Federation of Writers Scotland would like to invite members to contribute to a Patchwork Poem on this year’s NPD theme of ‘Change’. A Patchwork Poem is assembled from fragments of poetry from many contributors, and we’re asking Federation members to supply the fragments for last year’s Federation Makar Andy Jackson to edit into a poem. Members can supply single lines, short poems or extracts from whole poems on the theme of Change, and Andy will select pertinent lines from submitted work and arrange them into a coherent new poem. The resulting poem will be published on the Federation website on National Poetry Day.

  • The project welcomes contributions from FWS members. If you aren’t yet a member you are welcome to join!
  • Single lines, poetry fragments or whole poems should be sent to Andy at no later than September 1st.
  • Submissions can be new work or previously published.
  • While we would endeavour to use work from as many writers as possible it may not be possible to include submissions from everybody. All members whose lines are selected will be credited on the site.
  • The Patchwork poem will be published on the Federation website on NPD 4th October..

To give you some idea what the results might look like, see here for last year’s FWS Patchwork poem.


The glitter of Tinsel Tales!

On the afternoon of the 21st December 2017 Federation members gathered at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow for Tinsel Tales, the FWS annual pre-Christmas readings. Introducing the readings – which were many and diverse – were Gayle Smith, Marie-Therese Taylor and Rose Ann Fraser Ritchie.

Attendees – including no less than nine former Makers (see attached pic!) – also witnessed Anne Connolly’s MC-ing of the handover from Andy Jackson, Makar of 2017, to Marjorie Lotfi Gill, Makar of 2018.  The event culminated with a powerful reading from the long poem ‘Pilgrim’ by Marjorie Lotfi Gill, around the journey of her father from Iran to the US. Her theme of Belonging is one for members in 2018 and is likely to feature in her Makar programme for the coming year.

New FWS Makar – Marjorie Lotfi Gill

We are delighted to announce that the FWS Makar for 2018 is Marjorie Lotfi Gill, who won first prize and a commendation in last year Wigtown Poetry Competition and whom many members will know through her wonderful poetry and inspiring workshops. We announced the new Makar at the launch of our latest anthology on 4 November and she will be formally inaugurated at the Tinsel Tales event on 21 December when the current Makar Andy Jackson (who has done such great work with the Federation this year) will hand over the Makar’s shield.

Tinsel Tales 21st Dec GOMA Library

Tinsel Tales Thursday 21 December 2.30-6pm GoMA Library Glasgow

It’s not too early to book your slot for our ever-popular Tinsel Tales event, just before Christmas. This event will culminate in the inauguration of the Makar for 2018 (whose identity will be announced in November). To book your five minute slot (either prose or poetry is fine) please email

2017 FWS Anthology Launch Nov 4th

We’re delighted to announce the launch of our latest anthology Landfall on Saturday 4 November at the Scottish Poetry Library. We will be joined by the Edinburgh Makar, who is a patron of the FWS, Christine de Luca, and will also be marking our 1000th member, Lianne Forbes, with a small presentation.

All contributors have received invitations but we regret that because of capacity/fire regulations there is a limit on numbers so that attendance is by invitation only. There will be an opportunity for members not in the anthology to purchase copies after the launch (details in the November newsmail) and to attend the event we are expecting to organise in Glasgow in February to celebrate the anthology, date and venue to be arranged.