Reflecting on rock|salt

Wow, what an autumn that turned out to be! I barely stopped, from September to Christmas 2022, and I feel bad not to have updated this site with news at the time. Our rock|salt exhibition took place over 4 weekends, from end Oct to mid-Nov, and it was a resounding success. Elspeth Knight and I would like to thank everyone who came along, or who visited the online exhibition and supported us on social media! Our website that accompanies the exhibition is still live at the moment, in case you’d like a glimpse of the virtual galleries –

Working with Elly on these poems and companion artworks was an extraordinary experience – inspiring, exhausting, motivating – I found myself entirely absorbed into the voices and stories we were telling. I admit, I’ve had to take time out since the exhibition completed – my poetic voice dried up, and it’s only in the last week or so (January 2023) that I’ve found words starting to flow again. I’ve no ‘big’ projects planned for this year; rather, I am writing and researching and learning for myself for a while. May I take this chance to wish all my followers the very best for 2023 – and please don’t worry if I’m a little quiet on socials, I am here, just mulling over things in the background for a while.

Writing for rock|salt complete!

I posted earlier about the rock|salt project, my current art/poetry collaboration with Elspeth Knight, mixed media artist. Quite an incredible experience, working alongside a visual artist, who has interpreted my poems in a multitude of unexpected and beautiful ways. Each poem is linked with the heritage of the South of Fife – mining, fishing, agriculture all make an appearance. There are nods to elements of history that may have been previously overlooked – femininity and the roles of women being two of those elements at the forefront of our minds as we work on this project. I am delighted to say that I have completed the 21 poems that will feature in rock|salt, and there will be a book to accompany our exhibition in Burntisland later this year.

Mixed media artist Elspeth Knight working on pieces for rock|salt

You can follow our collaboration as it unfolds on Instagram [at]rocksaltproject, on Facebook (search for Rock Salt) and through my own Twitter feed @ammonitesandstars.

‘Caesura’: new (tiny) poetry pamphlet available

I recently published my latest little poetry collection, ‘Caesura’ (trigger warning: miscarriage, loss and grief). This tiny A6 booklet is a reflection on a difficult time in my life, back in summer 2006. I lost twins through ectopic pregnancy; I was quite young and didn’t really ‘face’ what was happening at the time. Only recently, with help, have I had the courage to look at the event and attempt to write about it. I hope that this little book is filled with hope as much as it is sadness and pain. I hope that the hope shimmers through, by the end.

Caesura poetry pamphlet by Larissa Reid; mini review by Elsa Panciroli.

‘Caesura’ is available direct from me for £4 inc. UK P&P – please message me using the contact box on this blog to order your copy.

rock|salt project launched!

I’m delighted to point you in the direction of a new collaborative project I’m working on with mixed media artist Elspeth Knight. Our project, entitled rock|salt, will explore the heritage and voices of South Fife’s coast through poetry and visual art. We will host an exhibition at the Glisk Gallery in Burntisland, Fife, in Autumn 2022.

You can follow our collaboration as it unfolds on Instagram [at]rocksaltproject, on Facebook (search for Rock Salt) and through my own Twitter feed @ammonitesandstars.

Burntisland from the back of the Binn hill, Fife

An ambition achieved

For many, many years, I have been inspired by a poet from Orkney, George Mackay Brown. I first met George Mackay Brown’s words whilst studying Scottish Literature at Aberdeen University, and his stories and poems have woven their way throughout my life ever since. I have written several poems inspired by GMB, and I was astonished when one of my pieces, ‘The Wound and the Gift’, was selected for a new anthology celebrating the centenary of GMB’s birth.

The anthology, entitled ‘Beyond the Swelkie’, is edited by Jim Mackintosh and Paul S Philippou and is available now from the Tippermuir Books website:

Something a little different…

Earlier this year, I took something of a leap into the unknown, and decided to try my hand at creative non-fiction. More specifically, I had a story to tell from my own past – a story of complex miscarriage and the psychological aftermath of that trauma. I was honoured when Epoch Press selected my essay for their second issue in spring of this year. Trigger warnings: miscarriage, grief, psychological trauma.

You can find my piece, entitled ‘Capella Rising’, in Epoch Press’ issue 2, Aftermath.

There is also a Q&A with me on their website:

Update: recent publications

Hello folks, it’s been a fair while since I’ve put some updates on my News feed here. Apologies for that – the second covid lockdown at the start of this year was quite a challenge, and then sadly after an amazing summer break I contracted covid myself at the start of September 2021. Thankfully I am slowly on the mend.

Here are a few links to recent published poems. I have been so pleased to be included in Northwords Now issue 41 (May 2021), and the George Mackay Brown Fellowship project Words into Music (May 2021).

Black Bough Poetry: Deep Time project

My poem ‘Cyclic’ recently appeared in Black Bough Poetry’s astonishing second volume of their Deep Time publication. The poem itself began life on the Isle of Skye in 2016, and resided, buried, in a notebook for a few years, before resurfacing and being remoulded for the Deep Time submission call.

All the poems in this beautiful series have been inspired by the book Underland by Robert Macfarlane, and chart the wonders of geological time, the hefty weight of dark spaces and the transformations that occur within. I am delighted to join so many fantastic poets in this publication, and I’m indebted to the wonderful poetic community that Matthew MC Smith has built on Twitter in recent months. A genuine lifeline of support and positivity that never fails to bring a smile to my face.

I was thrilled when Matthew asked me recently to host Black Bough’s #TopTweetTuesday on Twitter. What a privilege to spend a whole day immersed in high quality, powerful writing by poets from right across the world.

Thank you Matthew and the whole Black Bough Deep Time team!


Old post recycled: The Silence inside Sandstone

Whether or not it is the done thing, here is an old post from my blog ‘as was’ – sometimes it’s useful to look at older writing with fresh eyes. This one still resonates, so I’ve resurrected it.

The silence inside sandstone intrigues me. We have squeezed our way in, through a sideways split on the shore 10 or 12 feet back. It takes all of my inner-strength to persuade myself not to panic. It’s safe. It feels safe, in the sense that this cave has been here for hundreds if not thousands of years and is unlikely to change suddenly and trap us now. No loose rock, no ceiling to fall, just a narrow vertical opening large enough for a small adult to side-step through. It was likely a natural layer-break in heavily-tilted sandstone, though I don’t remember the outer landscape clearly now.

I’m relieved when we enter a wider space and can stretch out our arms a little. I look down and in the torch light I’m glittering, covered in tiny sand crystals brushed from the cave walls. Time feels different in here. It could be day, night, winter, summer; these sand grains – laid down when Scotland was part of a vast arid, mountainous landscape – were deposited in the bottom of a lake, Lake Orcadie, that extended for kilometres across what is now Morayshire and Caithness, sometimes reaching as far north as Orkney and Shetland. Covered in sand grains hundreds of millions of years old; grains that ancient fish shoals would have swum around in, hidden in, died in. And before that? How did their original crystal structures form? How far around the world had they travelled to land on my sleeve, here, now? 

The torch illuminates a dark red space before flickering and going out, and hush settles as we stop trying to examine our sensations in speech. The dark is soft, calming, all-consuming. Again, I get the feeling of extensions of time both within and around me. The only light is a glimmer at floor level, stemming from the entrance to the cave. The rock presses inwards, encasing me momentarily as though I’m to be fossilised. I wonder why I’m comforted rather than frightened by this thought.

I had been cautious outside, blue sky above and curlews calling, wondering why I would want to slip away into the rock’s interior. I was sure of claustrophobia; I could feel it taking shape around me, shadowing me even in sunshine. I didn’t really comprehend why I was now at peace, at home in the silence of sandstone.

I kneel, tilt my head to the sandy base of the cave to look out. It could be feasible that centuries have passed; I could step back out into the distant future or a past before human footfall. I forget you’re there with me and wander off in my mind, examining what these alternate future spaces might hold.

You break into my thoughts with a story of childhood, of hiding in the cave from your parents because you didn’t want to leave the bay to return home. As we move through millions of years’ worth of sand crystals to resurface into light and air, I consider doing the same. Returning to hide out, to remove myself from time entirely, to be encapsulated.