Winning the Saltire/British Council Travel Bursary

As a three year old I fell out of my aunt’s seventh storey apartment while visiting my mother’s country Bolivia. As a consequence to this I spent several months in hospital, started primary school late and had to learn how to walk again.

I will use my Saltire award to visit Bolivia and travel around the country. I will arrive in Santa Cruz then I will travel to La Paz and then go onto Tarija after which I will go back to Santa Cruz.

I will primarily explore what happened the day I fell and interview and meet key people such as my blood donor as well as people who saw me fall and visited me in hospital after. I also hope to meet at least one of the people that caught me when I fell from a window and saved my life.

I will gather the information by recording interviews on a flip camera as well as an audio recording device and hope to tweet (@poetkat) and blog about my findings on my website. 

I will then use all the information that I have gathered to explore how my fall changed my life and my relationship to the Bolivia and my Bolivian family through poetry.

I started writing about this pivotal event in my life during my Msc dissertation  and explored that day and my fall by writing surreal poetry and hope to continue this to form my first pamphlet of poetry.

My pamphlet will explore how I fell, why I fell and how I have fallen since that day in other ways (in love, spiritually, on the sidewalk in New York etc). I hope to develop my quirky, surreal voice and write the basis of my first full collection of poems.

In addition to this, I will explore the indigenous people, that makes up over 70 per cent of Bolivia’s population and hope to explore my relationship with them in my poetry. I will compare my relationship to them now to the one I had with them as a child in Bolivia, when I was able to interact with them freely. I will do this by visiting key figures in my childhood such as my nanny.

I will conduct research and take notes and video footage of family members during my visit to Bolivia and use this during my Phd.

In addition to travelling and exploring the country, I hope to lead creative writing and literature workshops exploring Scottish and Latin American literature as part of the award in Universities in La Paz.

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