Makar Press

Who is Sheila Templeton, poet?

Sheila Templeton is originally from Aberdeenshire...A Buchan quine...who spent the last ten years living on the Ayrshire coast, but has now made her home in Glasgow's southside, where she is revelling in city life.


She has been a first prize winner in both the McCash Scots language and Robert McLellan poetry competitions, with the poems My Land and Ripening, respectively, both in 2007.

Her work has also won many other prizes eg 1st prizes in the Scottish Association of Writers poetry competition and Ayrshire Ottakers book shop poetry competition as well as several previous McCash awards.


Her work as Poet in Residence at the Harbour Arts Centre Irvine, 2007 to 2010, was extremely successful, resulting in two lively collections of work by children and adults published by Ayrshire Council. Some of the childrens' work featured on the well known website Itchy Coo. She had the honour to be Makar of the Federation of Writers, Scotland from 2009 to 2010 and is also a featured poet on the Read Raw website 


She has been been published widely in anthologies, magazines and newspapers eg The Herald, New Writing Scotland, Cutting Teeth, Poetry Scotland, Lallans, Poetry Monthly, Markings, Causeway/Cabshair magazine Aberdeen University,  Running Threads ( Makar Press 2006), Cleave ( Two Ravens Press 2008), Bairn in my Soup (Koo Press 2008) Bards in the Bog ( Shetland Library Service 2009), By Grand Central Station (Red Squirrel Press 2011), Tracks in the Sand (New Voices Press 2011), Split Screen Anthology (Red Squirrel Press 2012), The Price of Gold (Grey Hen Press 2012)


Currently Sheila has two poetry collections available, Slow Road Home (Makar Press 2004) and Digging For Light (New Voices Press 2011). 


You can buy Slow Road Home from the Makar Bookshop on this website.  Digging for Light can be purchased directly from New Voices Press, where it costs £6.99 plus postage. Contact New Voices Press for details.

Her next publication will be with Red Squirrel Press, possibly later in 2012.

She gives readings of her work with the Makar Press Poets' performance group, as well as solo performances, in settings ranging from Culzean castle in Ayrshire to Books and Beans bookshop in Aberdeen. Her most recent reading was in the Glasgow Mirrorball event Nov 2011, where she was reading alongside Donny O'Rourke and Jackie Kay. She also gives talks and workshops on poetry writing and is on the Book Trust register of Live Literature Scotland, which caters for organisations wishing to employ writers for such events.


Now you know a bit more about Sheila, check out some of her poems below... 


 Calyx for Georgia O'Keeffe


You sexy little thing. Georgia noticed you, half hidden

coy in the back row of the wedding bouquet and slid

you out from the other stems. She carried you home,

all the way to her studio, to see to you. Stroke your

silky hood, drift fingertips down that snowy calyx

to your stamen tip, gorgeous in farm buttery yellow,

dusted in pollen and ready for anything.


You lucky thing. All these nerve endings under the skin,

enough of each gender to have your own bed bonanza.

No need to comb the New Mexico desert looking for a mate.

You have it all. Woman's parts petalled soft, swaddled,

parting for your little bit of man, en-suite complete.

No wonder you were perfectly happy, standing perjink

prim, listening to the first bars of the wedding march.


But Georgia spotted you. And here you are, sitting

in her favourite vase looking out at Taos mountain,

as she paints you into her life. Lingering over each line,

bringing known from unknown. Paying attention.

And, not content with that, set you up on curvy,

split tailed dolphins cavorting under your root.

In case we'd somehow failed to get the message.




A Bonnie Fechter

That winter, snaw flew its feathers thick

smoorichin the hale Rannoch Moor.

I thocht the warld wud be white for iver.

Danny the Keeper said the stags

wud have tae come doon,

else they'd sterve tae death.


We'd niver seen red deer afore.

But these beasts wernae ony shade o red.

Ivery day as the licht hid ahint the Black Mounth,

they floated ower the high fence at the side o the line,

sepia angels biggen a brig ower cloudy drifts

against a grape slate sky. I thocht their hooves

could niver touch the grun,


until the day we heard a scraping

ootside the kitchen door. He was big.

His antlers telt a lang story, a hero's story,

of territory defended and hinds protected.

He eased back a bittie, but didnae flee.

At my mither's nod, I threw the tattie peelings

scudding intae the kirned up khaki snaw.


And waited and watched while he took his time,

his fine big heid lowered wi nae loss o dignity.

And so he lat me feed him ivery day,

as the licht left the sky.

Nae to touch or stroke, but he'd lat me

look intae his een and watch him,


until the day he didnae come. The day I looked

and shouted and poked aboot the frosty dyke.

Nae use, my pail o slippy tattie parings frozen

in the night where I'd left it.

I splashed bilin water tae saften it for him.

But nae sign.


Winter gnawed on,


until Danny the Keeper said ower a nip and a fag

'Thon's a grand auld beast

 deid doon by the burn.

Funny that. How they hide awa, when they ken

it's their time. Like an auld war hero. Like ony

bonnie fechter fan he kens his time is up.' 



Eggs Through The Post

You sent me eggs when I was far from home.

Six eggs in their carton, through the Royal Mail.

Which arrived completely intact. You never thought

for one moment it could be otherwise.


I swear, at your birth the Godmother must have made

some deal. You always pulled things off. Remember

the sewing of us into long awaited party frocks

10 minutes before departure? Zips were for wimps.


You knew the eggs would be fine. That I would not

be left holding a brown paper package oozing life

through glue-yellow and broken shells trickling

through my fingers, a smashed mess, like


I'm holding here today. What you are telling me

now. This chest-caving news you've heard alone

and kept until we could be face to face.

How can this doctor know who you are?


You. I want to hug you, but your bones are too light.

I want you to hold me so I know I'm not broken.

Sing to me. Sing me a world that's whole.

Send me six eggs through the post.




(After Epithets by Jamie McKendrick)

Aberdeen the isolate, the quartz-worked-with-difficulty, the obdurate,

the sea road to Zetland, the Apardjon of Morkinskinna, the salt breathed,

the grey, the scarlet gowned, the double-universitied, the black-golded,

the helicoptered, the unclean, the low maintenance stone sheen, the solid.


Aberdeen the butteried, the bon accord-ed, the ashet-assiette, the bosie,

the river girdled, the haar happed, the kirn of beast and fish mart,

the reckless siller granite-howked, the fit, faa and foo sounds, the heck,

the owsen, sic words the same in Flanders-spik, free gift o merchant men.


Aberdeen the sceptical, the wide light elliptical, the dirty scuttering gull

harboured, the saft green, the egostical, the glittering lat thame say!

the hard blaze of mica schist, the trysting cornered Monkey House.


Aberdeen the transient, the tender, the Piper-Alpha-melted-hard-hats

the paper machied, the fechtin, warslin, singin place, the blunt spik,

the Gothic ribbed, the durable; roch and weet and sweet.



Thay haif said; qtihat say they; lat thame say!

 (Motto of Marischal College, Aberdeen 1596-1826)





Midnight has blackened the river to thick tar,

where swans, not moving, certainly not sleeping,

arch their wings. White origami angels with dark


space in their eyes; a moon, its globe forgotten

is fractured, twisting, a silvered eel in black water,

somersaulting in some unseen swell offered


without explanation, content to conceal its deep.

I stand, a watcher on the bridge

understanding nothing.


Slow Road Home

This was Sheila's first collection, which came out in 2004.  


It is available to purchase through the Makar Bookshop on this website at a cost of £5, which includes free postage and packaging anywhere in the UK (and for a small additional sum for foreign buyers).

You'll find it in the 'Poetry Pamphlets (assorted)' section - just select Slow Road Home from the drop down menu at the bottom then click add to cart.