Ruby McCann – Glasgow Writer

ruby mccann

Ruby McCann is a Glasgow poet, writer, playwright, and creative writing tutor.

Ruby has won numerous awards including the Mary Boyle McCrory Award for Excellence in Creative Writing (Washington, DC 2004). Her work has featured in magazines, anthologies and in film and Ruby has performed her work at numerous festivals including Aye Write.

Apart from her own writing, Ruby has initiated and been involved in numerous projects encouraging and supporting other writers in their creativity and organising performance showcases. In America she worked with young playwrights and ran numerous creative writing workshops. Back in Scotland she was the first writer in residence at Glenochil prison and worked with prisoners at other Scottish prisons including Friarton and H.M.P. Perth.  Ruby was chair of the Scottish Writers Centre from 2014 – 2017, successfully applying for funding and firmly establishing this facility in Glasgow.  She went on to found Cheeky Besom’s Glasgow Literary Lounge in Glasgow’s East End along with fellow poet Jim Ferguson and artist Louise Malone: ‘making and creating, for the love of the literary arts and culture’, the artistic collective went from strength to strength with its well attended, vibrant and imaginative events; showcasing the talents of newcomers alongside a diverse range of more established writers and poets including Christie Williamson, Samina Chaudry and Carla Woodburn.  Ruby’s energy, commitment and skill has seen her  contributing to a wide range of artistic endeavours; she wrote and narrated a film script to celebrate Paisley Central Library (2018) and contributed to the Eilean Nam Bam project: an exhibition celebrating the extra-ordinary lives of ordinary women (London 2018 & 2019). In 2020 Ruby expanded into publishing, founding Rymour Books   –an independent Scottish publisher, along with Ian Spring.  In 2021 [February, 2021: Rymour Books was one of seven Scottish publishers shortlisted for The British Book Awards Small Press of the Year award!]

Ruby is currently working on her own poetry collection.

Learn more about Ruby’s writing and her work in the world of literature: Pat chats with Ruby McCann on the Podcast: Jim and Pat’s West End Chat.

cheeky besom calton bar

‘Ruby McCann is someone who gets things done: as Chair of Scottish Writers Centre, she did a mammoth amount of work to get funding and literature out for a wide scope of Scottish Writers, she took a small pub in Glasgow’s East End, and with that tireless commitment, she managed and established The Cheeky Besoms project which brought writers and academics in from all over the UK. She is one feisty lassie who puts many before herself. I have been delighted to have her poetry in Seahorse Publications and hope to publish more.’ Dr.Linda Jackson.

‘Ruby has always been committed to creativity, mostly others’ but has a real dedication to her own craft; while giving much, probably too much, energy away.’ Jacqueline Smith, author, poet and previously Chair of Scottish Writers Centre and host at Poetry@TheIvory.

Ruby McCann’s Poetry – Some Examples

Home Grown in Glasgow – an extract

‘I’m a lassie from that ‘dear green place’

rooted in the soil of the second empirical city

I don’t speak Gallic because they took my language from me

I am though trilingual

I speak Scots, Glaswegian and English’

Home Grown In Glasgow – a poem for International Women’s Day by Ruby McCann

Duke Street Rhapsody – an extract

steppin off the B* Train round midnight
I’m hip to jive in the downpour intro
spotlightin a backdrop to a slow tempo dance
n s’like all low-key
n ama slippin into a downbeat cloudburst
in the romance of an old sepia-stained
black and white
an ah dig it

I pull my collar, curl into my coat
my mood, upbeat indigo steppn
my steps, a riff, tap…, tap…, tappin
fuse into, drip…., drip…, drippin
a melody in rain follows me up to the top
n am wonderin… who’s playin?

facing me, remnants of the old meat market past
calling and responding to a present
used car sales lot hinting at a future
on a sign that’s been up there
oh.., longer than ah remember

Read the full poem – No 33. on Stanza’s Poetry Map of Scotland

three of swords – a poem by Ruby McCann

three of swords

some say all that suffering
leads to something better
than sand flowing through
broken-hearts…….going forward
finally grasping…….love lacking depth
is no love at all

thunderstorms pierce my heart
pouring tearing grey clouds
and I count myself lucky
for there is no white bull
to charm me or climb upon
reckless abandonment
snared an emotional trap
that…….other…….love

and I’m still snivelling sadness
shedding loss…….lamenting
loneliness…….howling heartbreak
grievingly grieved…….healing upheaval
embracing destructive love
by letting go…….lessons from
an unknown…….third party rush
this shallow gal got hooked on

pain lacking patterns missing depth
because I didn’t see a clearing
path ahead…….true love
isn’t really encouraged
or even understood
making my eyes flood
down on me like rain knowing
there are jewels in teardrops

loves-superficiality verses nurturing
togetherness…….deep longing
didn’t work…….and we tried
fluff attracts like lint
on cloaking and we’re
all sold on addiction
romance addicts
not truly hitched
insecure romantics
bewitched with objective affection
he knew…….knows all that
old material…….things died
rekindled…….rebirthed deepened love

and its darned hard work
some don’t work at
unpleasantly getting through
readjusting disappointments
moving closer together
new ways of loving…….far removed
from neurotic love enshrined
in movies

I closed that door…….looked ahead
crossed an ocean…….rented a room
with a view…….for me
and didn’t look back
because my love…….is…….too thick

Ruby McCann

weighing up: negative confessions for scribes  

after all prayers for safe travel
to those departed creatives
bring straw and clay
and corn dolls to mould
for souls need a vessel
to emerge from death
and not all songs have melodies
or refrains holy rites ease

poor souls of art heavier
than the white feather of truth
to reach eternal paradise
when admitted to the academy
one has to criss-cross cosmic pomposity
underworldly lordy
justly dead judgy creators
mauling two-truths waiting on
weighing up pros and cons
feathered birds flocking
unruffled art absconding
hall of judgement

rowing Lily Lake piercing
veiled eternal nirvana or not
where loved ones wait
if riveted enough

when enlightened art wakens
masses queue-in pearly gates
steer your masterpiece
seek out a jackal-headed-man
named Anubis
God of all mere mortals
and time is fleeting
ask him what is right in the balanced
order of creation?
does art live eternally?
by streams
beneath trees
in fields of reeds

he will intentionally ignore you
reference page numbers from souls handbook
even if you didn’t receive a copy
absorbedly spellbound over last night’s lover
trapeze tricks swinging in his head
thrown on peaks precise timing
too long ushering afterlife artistic musings
attending limitless golden scales balancing
soaring heavens glass ceiling
sky-high-ing short horizontal bars
hung by ropes with metal straps

for support follow him
he will escort you
to hall of truth
where long haired artists
vent snobbery in smouldering sacraments
smoke endless cigarettes
loaf around smearing walls
styling petty profound profanities
in one-dimensional font

            fuck infinity

perpendicular geometric patterns
awaiting opinion-ed
sensitive Anubis’ ear
re-marks a riddle
is it possible to have art
lighter than a feather?
leaving you puzzled

overhead winged darting voluptuous
wind-swept Goddesses
bear fresh fruit and water
proffer overflowing wine goblets
hearten gratified confusion
alighting golden scales
in the way one alights a train
from Edinburgh at Glasgow Central
tallying harmony and balance
twerking to Beethoven’s Symphony
no. 7 in A major

dazingly dazed
42-judges consulting
three eternal fates
staging close measured side-stepping
squatting twerks harnessing power
blindly auditioning musicians behind a screen
eyeing art devoid of context
blending bias in performance

and should your art prove too heavy
whilst destiny’s gyrating booties distract
it will be thrown to the floor
gobbled up by an armoured
scaled beast with great crocodile jaws
far more sensitive than fingertips
legs bent and head low
rosette camouflaged front
marking you like a preying leopard
and a rhinos’ leathery lumpy broad-backed
loose piano-keyed vertebral column
teething fatality in those towering
thrusting hip movements
once devoured cease to exist
there will be no jet-black drays
drawing carriages
hearses or baroque floral tributes
no obituaries writ
because no art
decomposes death in real time
quite like an unbalanced feather

Ruby McCann

@rubysbirl

Ruby McCann Facebook

Glasgow Writers: Tom Leonard

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