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Gillian K Ferguson is an award-winning poet whose work has been described as dazzlingly original, luminous and boldly intelligent; combining vivid lyricism and sensuality with a particularly acute ‘Celtic’ sensibility to nature.

Most recently, she won the £25,000 Creative Scotland Award, presented by the Scottish Arts Council, for her project on the Human Genome – ‘The Human Genome: Poems on the Book of Life’. The book – in four ‘Sequences’ - is a major poetic exploration of the mapping of the ‘Human Genome’, the entire genetic code of three billion letters required to create a human being. A particular focus of the work is Comparative Genomics - the increasing realisation of profound genetic similarities among all living organisms. It is a magnum opus on genetics, spanning a thousand pages of poems and poetic reflection interwoven with extracts from academic papers, interviews, newspaper reports and books.

Her previous book of poems was the groundbreaking volume, ‘Baby: Poems on Pregnancy, Birth and Babies’ (Canongate, and in the US, Grove Atlantic) – the first book of poems to chart the whole experience of becoming a mother. In a unique initiative with a high street chain, the book is now published by GAP and available in flagship BabyGAP stores (order a copy).. This accords with the author’s passionate belief in reaching the public with ‘real’ poetry.

Gillian Ferguson has received three Writer’s Bursaries from the Scottish Arts Council, including the top award for ‘Baby’; and her first book of poems, ‘Air for Sleeping Fish’ (Bloodaxe), was shortlisted for the Scottish First Book of the Year. She was a prizewinner in the Daily Telegraph Arvon International Poetry Competition. Her work appears in various anthologies including Maura Dooley’s anthology of new women poets of the Nineties, Making for Planet Alice (Bloodaxe); in New Blood (Bloodaxe); the Faber Book of 20th Century Scottish Poems (Faber); in Dream States (Faber); The New Scottish Poets (Polygon), and Modern Scottish Women Poets, (Canongate); as well The Edinburgh Book of 20th Century Scottish Poetry (Edinburgh University Press), and 100 Favourite Scottish Poems (Scottish Poetry Library, 2006). She has been a judge in the Faber/Ottakars Poetry Competition, for the National Poetry Day Poems for Postcards Competition, and the 2006 Creative Scotland Awards.

Gillian Ferguson was born in Edinburgh and after gaining an Honours degree in Philosophy from Edinburgh University – specialising in Metaphysics and Aesthetics - she worked in various ways to support her poetry, including as a jewellery-maker, illustrator, and Tutor in Arts at the Open University, before moving into journalism. As well as literary and high profile/celebrity interviews, she became the television critic at Scotland on Sunday. Renowned for her wit, compassion and intelligence, she was a Life, then Opinion, columnist for some years at The Scotsman; in addition, reviewing television and books. She also contributed a humorous column to the Financial Times weekend magazine, and broadcast columns for John Peel’s Radio 4 programme, Home Truths, in its glory days; as well as reviewing events in Scotland for BBC Radio 2’s arts programme.

Ongoing work in poetry includes a book of poems about her beloved Edinburgh, with the working title of …‘Edinburgh’. She is also completing a book of short stories called ‘Loonies’, and has written a novel for older teenagers - ‘Angelboy’ - about ecology, madness, the family and fairies; as well as a three-part ecological fable – ‘The Strangeness’ - set in future Scotland and other parts of the Universe, concerning time-travel, fantasy, comedy, adventure, and romance…

For further information on the Human Genome Project, or any matter concerning the author, please contact Gabriel Stanford.

Some comments on Gillian K Ferguson’s previous work –

‘Gillian Ferguson’s voice in poetry is assured and distinctive, even in the nervy subjects she divulges with such emotional hazard and control, the sheer discharge of feeling within an honest conception of how a poem should be spoken or written. Always, too, there is a pull towards the lyrical, the articulating image, whether a “crushed bush ghosted with buds”, or the more narrative insights such as “love grows us like light”. Imaginative, bold, brave, daring, and sometimes opulent, Gillian Ferguson is a marvellous addition to the number of young Scottish writers.’ Douglas Dunn

‘Air for Sleeping Fish is clearly written by an artist. Her eye for detail and colour is tremendous... such a feel for the sensual textures of language’                     Poetry Quarterly Review

‘Celtic sensibility to nature to a vivid degree. Here is a woman who could not live without the sensuality of colour.... Gorgeous illuminations of moments of love and fear.’ Kathleen Jamie

‘Ferguson has the rare ability to locate the mot juste, keeping language stripped down to essentials, but all the richer for her careful selection process… A sensuous and ambitious first collection, Ferguson paints with words, and she prefers the challenge of oils to the insipidity of watercolours…Hardly any of these poems were published in magazines but it is easy to see why Bloodaxe took a chance on this talented and unusual newcomer.’                                                Jane Holland in Poetry Review

‘She is expert at wordplay, and her imagery is sharply focused, intensely visual…Hauntingly lyrical... individual vibrancy and unerring accuracy in fixing the human condition.’ Ambit

‘… Air for Sleeping Fish is a fine collection, all the more impressive for being the poet’s first… It is very much a volume, ordered and shaped as a whole, with a richness of echo and intra-textual allusion; colours and shapes recur – to give the volume the texture of landscape. Simplicity of thought is beautifully in place… A forceful poet of nature with a keen, though distant, political awareness and a sense of classical resonance… Her first collection is mature and rewarding; we must expect her to develop fast.’ The Richmond Review

‘Verbal glitter... then lowering the decibels she becomes evocatively tender’ Times Education Supplement

‘Intense, vividly lyrical poems which show a painter’s eye for light and colour. Often sensual and lavish she can also write riskily with images impressive for their accuracy and restraint... Genuine and unconcerned with poetic fashion’ Scotland on Sunday

‘Poetry is perhaps the true Scottish literary form; one of the central cultural arenas in which Scots have proved themselves to be powerfully world class. In a field grievously depleted by recent deaths, poets shine out of these lists: Edwin Morgan’s endlessly ebullient inventiveness, scientific, metaphysical, geological on the Scottish Book of the Year; the luminous, nature-inspired poetry of Gillian Ferguson on the Scottish First Book of the Year list. Are these narratives of national change?...Possibly not; they are far more important than that. They show that Scottish writers have a vast confidence of the imagination; that there is nothing they are afraid to tackle; that their specific, highly charged voices come through strong, and clear – a luminous autumn light.’                     Catherine Lockerbie, Director, Edinburgh Book Festival

‘The intricacies of the natural world infuse her work, shedding light on the still more curious goings-on of the human sphere’ Maura Dooley

‘Colourful, visionary... a knack for imagery reminiscent of spiderwebs, but Technicolour ones, delicate and elaborately patterned. The private moments suggested by Ferguson are ones we can all share and recognise. An elegant first collection.’ Scottish Book Collector

‘Award-winning Scottish poet Gillian K Ferguson’s Baby is a unique book of poems celebrating one of the most intense life experience of pregnancy, birth and babies. A humorous and moving exploration in which the deep sense of love and fulfilment contrast with the inevitable anxieties and problems.’         Waterstones Christmas Selection Catalogue

‘Quite beautifully luminous…always avoiding the big waiting jaws of sentimentality, they catch the throat with the precision of their love.’     Catherine Lockerbie, Director, Edinburgh Book Festival, on BABY

‘I don’t have kids and can safely say I’m never going to give birth but I found this collection of poems about conception pregnancy and birth and babies moving, amusing and thought provoking.’ BBC Arts, Christmas Book Picks

‘This book of poems [Baby] should be available on the NHS.’                     Audience Development Officer, Scottish Poetry Library

‘Breeding propaganda.’ Sunday Herald