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Shetland Arts Development Agency (SADA) is delighted to announce that following a rigorous selection process, it has commissioned five Readers in Residence for the Creative Futures – Readers in Residence programme.

Readers in Residence is part of Creative Scotland’s Creative Futures programme: promoting, connecting and developing Scotland’s creative practitioners.

The five residents are Ian Stephen, Jen Hadfield, Margot Henderson, Maureen Sangster and Zoe Strachan. Each one will take up a residency with a library service in Scotland.

Ian Stephen will work with Western Isles Library service based in Stornoway; Jen Hadfield will be resident with Shetland Library; Margot Henderson will work with Highland Council Library Service; Maureen Sangster will be Reader in Residence at a mental health facility in Scotland; and Zoe Strachan will work with East Ayrshire Libraries.

Gwilym Gibbons, Director of Shetland Arts said: ‘What is particularly exciting about the people we have selected is that as well as being highly talented in their own field, as novelist, poet or story teller, they all have exceptional talents as communicators and in working with people, and a profound understanding of the importance of reading, to individuals and to communities. We feel sure that each Reader in Residence will make a difference and we look forward to seeing their projects evolve.”

Venu Dhupa, Director of Creative Development at Creative Scotland, said: “It's great news that the Readers in Residence are now in place. The residencies will bring an enabling and creative dynamic to the successful communities and their libraries. Reading is an essential skill for learning, life and work; it expands knowledge and sparks imaginations. Not only will the Readers in Residence develop the work of both individual library users and a wide range of reading groups it will also enhance their own creative development.”

In each case the Reader in Residence will divide their time equally between working on behalf of the library service and the communities it serves, in order to encourage reading and enhance the experience of library service users.

SADA selected the five residents from a short list of thirteen. They received a total of 37 applications from across Scotland.

SADA Literature Development Officer, Donald Anderson said: “There has been an amazing response from would be Readers in Residence and Library Services alike, which has led to a highly competitive selection process. We understand that there will be some disappointment for applicants who were not successful and for the Library Services who supported them. We appreciate the time and work they put into preparing their applications and thank them for their interest in the Creative Futures – Readers in Residence programme”

For more information contact:

Donald Anderson, Literature Development Officer, Shetland Arts Development Agency

01595 743 740

‘Creative Futures’ is an ambitious programme of residencies and related activities designed to promote the professional development, vision, connectivity and ambitions of Scotland’s creative practitioners and organisations. It is the largest co-ordinated residency programme in Europe, and includes residencies that are single discipline, interdisciplinary, cross sectoral and international.

The Readers in Residence are:

Jen Hadfield has published two collections of poetry with Bloodaxe Books. Her second, Nigh-No-Place, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize in 2007 and won the T.S.Eliot Prize for poetry in 2008. She lives in Shetland, working as a writer and writing tutor and sometimes artist. She has recently completed the first draft of a fiction, Tied Island, which is set in Depression-Era Canada.

Audio samples of Jen reading her work are available at She also blogs intermittently at

Ian Stephen was born in Stornoway and still lives there. He studied Education, Drama and Literature at Aberdeen University graduating with a B Ed (hons) with distinction.

Ian worked for the Coastguard Service for many years but has been a full time writer and artist since winning the first Robert Louis Stevenson Award in 1995. His project of navigating through the settings of traditional maritime stories was funded by a Creative Scotland Award and this has remained a key element in his work. He travels widely to tell stories.

Work in drama includes the play Seven Hunters – a touring production, directed by Gerry Mulgrew for Communicado, The Highland Festival and Tosg. His first collection of poems Malin, Hebrides, Minches was published in Aarhus Denmark, in 1983 and his new and selected poems Adrift were published in the Czech Republic in 2007. Poems and short-stories were gathered in the pocketbooks/Polygon series in Green Waters (with Graham Rich and Ian Hamilton Finlay) and Mackerel and Creamola (with Donald Urquhart).

Margot Henderson is a Scots -Irish Poet, Storyteller and Community Artist. Much of her work is site specific, celebrating our connection to the natural environment. She was Artist Educator for the Tate Galleries for many years and was Storyteller in Residence for Coral Arts, a site-specific participatory arts theatre company.

Since returning to Scotland in 2002 she has been storytelling Fellow for Aberdeen and Writer in Residence for The Cromarty Arts Trust. She leads creative writing workshops for LAPIDUS Words for Wellbeing and currently teaches expressive writing at Maggies Highlands. She practices Mindfulness meditation in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh

The central themes of her work as a Community Artist, developed over the last 15 years, are: encouraging creative self expression, exploring roots and heritage, deepening connection to place, developing community and generating a sense of belonging. Much of her work is environmental, site specific, participatory and intergenerational, using story, poetry and the performing arts to bring older and younger people together in ways that are mutually satisfying, stimulating and beneficial, where elders are valued as an essential community resource whose life experience is invaluable to young people to help develop a sense of and belonging in a rapidly changing world and young people provide a sense of continuity and regeneration.”

Margot Henderson is a nationally acclaimed poet, storyteller and community artist. Her uniqueness lies in her ability to draw on her range of skills in poetry, storytelling, movement and voice to work with people of all ages, abilities and cultural backgrounds to create and inspire. Her work takes place in diverse settings ranging from schools, hospitals, community centres, prisons and homeless shelters to museums, theatres, galleries and international conferences.

Maureen Sangster is a writer and poet in Scots and English. She was shortlisted in the Second Annual James Kirkup Memorial Poetry competition 2011 and won The Callum MacDonald Memorial Award for pamphlet poetry publishing in 2007. Her poetry collections are Menopausal Bedtime Rhymes, The Unseen Hospital, and Out of the Urn. Collaborative work can be seen incorporated in The Beadle’s Stone, a poetry stone at Auchtertool Kirk near Kirkcaldy and in filmpoems Echoes of Voices and Timeline.

She’s communicated her passion for reading and the written/printed word as a writer, workshop facilitator and tutor in schools, care homes, community centres, art galleries and hospitals. Via Scottish Book Trust’s Live Literature programme she has delivered creative writing sessions in Carstairs State Hospital where she will now take up her Reader in Residence post.

She lives in Fife. She’s a member of Edinburgh based Pomegranate Women’s Writing Group. Other interests are singing and art. She exhibited in Scrapbox Challenge St Andrews 2010.

Zoë Strachan is an award-winning novelist who also writes plays, libretti, short stories and essays. She was born in Kilmarnock in 1975 and is now a Patron of the Imprint Festival in East Ayrshire. In 2003 The Independent on Sunday listed her in their top twenty novelists under 30, and the Scottish Review of Books selected her as one of their new generation of five young Scottish authors in 2011. She has been awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship, the Hermann Kesten Stipendium and a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship. Her latest novel is Ever Fallen in Love, which has just been longlisted for the Green Carnation Prize, and in autumn 2011 she was British Council Writer in Residence on the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. She teaches Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow.


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