Storybones, Storyskin with Margot Henderson


Margot’s work requires creativity, resourcefulness and the ability to be with people where and how they are.

The Reading Room presents an evening of poetry and stories by Margot Henderson, who will perform some of her work and share stories of her engaged practice as a Community Artist. She will also hold an afternoon workshop called ‘Words for Well-Being’.

This Scots-Irish poet and storyteller is one of those ‘list people’. You know the type–the ones who make us flush green and cringe and throw half-empty teacups and whisky glasses at walls…the ones who have accomplished such an incredible amount of creative work, it requires much space and headings to organize it all and we are loath to believe a word of it.

With over 30 years of experience in leading Community Arts projects and workshops, Margot was Reader in Residence for Inverness, Storytelling Fellow for Aberdeen and Writer in Residence for the Cromarty Arts Trust. She has led Expressive Writing groups for Maggies Highlands, CLAN and the Highland Hospice  She is a regular workshop leader with LAPIDUS and the WEA in Wellbeing. She also leads Mindfulness workshops and retreats.

The central themes of Margot’s work, which takes place in a huge range of venues, are: encouraging creative self-expression; exploring roots and heritage; deepening connection to self, community and place; and generating a sense of belonging. She has a deep love of nature and a keen sense of our interconnectedness.


Margot as a Garden Pea in a Pod, ‘Connecting with the Intelligence of Nature’, at a 2008 celebration of Findhorn Community co-founder, Dorothy Maclean.

She has taken part in cross-arts collaborations and has been commissioned by a range of organisations including Scottish Natural Heritage, the Findhorn Foundation, Ballet Rambert, the Barbican Centre and the Tate, to create and perform her work.

Everyone is welcome to join us at Edinbane Community Hall, on Tuesday, February 28, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free for members and our reasonably priced memberships are available at the door. Non-members: £5. Refreshments will be served.

Write Here

Margot’s Afternoon Workshop will be mainly aimed at carers and people who work in the caring profession. She says, ‘Sometimes we are so busy caring for others that we don’t find it easy to take space for ourselves. This workshop is a chance to take some time to relax and reflect, create and express.

‘We will share some playful and practical writing prompts that can support our own happiness and well-being. These tools can also be helpful in working with others.

‘Writing can be a wonderful way of becoming more present helping us get in touch with and express our feelings. We can resource ourselves through writing in groups, sharing concerns and inspirations, responses and reflections as a way of finding greater meaning and well-being in our lives. It can also be a way of developing empathy and creative imagination. Sharing our writing together can be satisfying and fun.’

The workshop will be held on February 28, 2:30-4:30 p.m., at the Caledonian Hotel, downtown Portree (upstairs from street). Admission is free of charge but please register with us, as space is limited. Message us on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye or email us at


Zoë Strachan Cancelled.

MANY APOLOGIES. ZOE STRACHAN HAS HAD TO CANCEL, DUE TO EMERGENCY. PLEASE JOIN US ON SEPTEMBER 27 FOR Ian Stewart and Alistair Christie, authors of Trig Point Walks on the Isle of Skye and Raasay. 7.30 p.m. at Edinbane Hall..

The Reading Room presents writer Zoë Strachan on Tuesday, August 30, for an afternoonZoe workshop and evening reading.

In her evening appearance, she will talk about her work, including a sneak-peek at her work-in-progress, and read from her latest novel, Ever Fallen in Love (2011). The story plays with a frenzy of tension, interweaving the tone and pace of young, queer love with the mature hindsight of regret and envy. The novel was Shortlisted for the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Scottish Books Awards 2012 and the Green Carnation Prize 2011 and was nominated for the London Book Award 2012 

Her first novel, Negative Space (2002), lauded as a powerful portrayal of grief and healing, was the winner of a 2003 Betty Trask Award and shortlisted for the 2002 Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award. Her second novel, Spin Cycle (2004), is set in a launderette and tells the story of three of its workers; it is a “murky and dazzling” novel about women in emotional turmoil.

Strachan’s short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4. She has written many articles and reviews for newspapers, including The Herald, The Scotsman Magazine and The Sunday Times.

Her stage play, Old Girls, opened in Glasgow in 2009. She has also written a stage play, Panic Patterns, with Louise Welsh, performed in Glasgow in 2010. Her short opera, Sublimation, written with composer Nick Fells, was part of Scottish Opera’s Five:15 series in 2010, touring Scotland and also travelling to South Africa.

Zoë teaches on the Creative Writing Programme at the University of Glasgow and lives in Glasgow with her partner, writer Louise Welsh. She is on the Board of Directors of Glasgow Women’s Library; a Patron of the Imprint Festival in East Ayrshire; and a supporter of Scottish Pen.

Afternoon Workshop: Zoë is an established tutor, teaching courses for the Arvon Foundation and Moniack Mhor. A Scottish Book Trust scheme allows her to visit festivals, schools, prisons and community groups, to share her expertise. She is a writer who excels in digging deep into haunted searches and memories, exposing the raw layers of psychology. The detailed exploration in her writing should elicit profound discoveries in our own writing, as she leads this workshop, titled “Writing for a Reaction”. The workshop will be held at Aros in Portree, from 2:00 p.m., (Tuesday, 30 August). £5 members, £10 non-members. Meet in the foyer. Space is limited, so jump to it! Email the Reading Room at or message us on Facebook.

Patrons wishing to dine before the reading are welcome to join some of us at the Edinbane Inn, around 6 p.m. Our evening at Edinbane Community Hall begins at 7 p.m. for 7:30. Non-members, £5. Our very reasonable memberships are always available.  Be sure to check out our book table for interesting reads at bargain prices. Copies of our Anthology 2, A Stillness of Mind, may be purchased for £8.50.

Refreshments will be served. Everyone is welcome. For more information, contact us at or message us on Facebook (The Reading Room – Skye).

How far would you go to avoid death?


Frozen to Life is the true account of futuristic writer D.J. MacLennan’s extraordinary answer to this question: If he cannot escape the constraints of a ‘natural’ lifespan, he will, upon his death, have his severed head preserved in a vat of liquid nitrogen in the Arizona desert.

This book illuminates the astonishing science behind his decision, and the transformative power of the patternist thinking that carried him to it. From the initial confusion and isolation of his upbringing on the Scottish islands of Benbecula and Skye, comes a curious inkling that collides with dominant religious dogmas and alters relationships: What am I? What is a ‘self’? Must selves die?

Neuroscience – including the latest theories about the way mind emerges from the architecture of the brain – interweaves with philosophy, Buddhism and personal testimony, to create a fascinating and emotionally-charged insight into the psyche of a ‘cryonaut’ in waiting.

Written with empathy, searing insight, and dark humour, Frozen to Life is both cutting edge and bleeding heart: a postmodern experiment in falling in love with life while preparing for death, in ways we can change ourselves radically without losing our treasured humanity, and iFrozen toLifeauthorphoton coming to understand that neither life nor death is what we think it is. How far would you go to avoid death?

Author D.J. MacLennan was born in 1971, in an old schoolhouse on the almost-drowned Scottish island of Benbecula. Since 1975, he has lived on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.

The Alcor cryonics facility currently houses some 115 liquid-nitrogen-vitrified ‘patients’ – of whom over two-thirds are head-only ‘neuropatients’. Dr. Max More, CEO of Alcor, in Scottsdale, Arizona, says that cryonics is ‘simply an extension of emergency medicine’, suggesting that cryonics is saving a patient by buying them time for science to catch up. Of around 980 members worldwide, MacLennan became one of only a handful that have allowed their names to be made public.

On Tuesday, March 22, please join the Reading Room for an enlightening discussion with D.J. MacLennan. We meet at Tigh na Sgire, Park Lane, Portree, Isle of Skye, next to the Community Center, from 7:00 p.m. Refreshments will be served. £3 for non-members.











Brian Johnstone and Trio Verso: Book Week Scotland on Skye.

The Reading Room is privileged to present Brian Johnstone and Trio Verso, for our Book Week Scotland 2015 celebration on Wednesday,  November 25, at Skeabost Memorial Hall.

Trio Verso: Brian Johnstone, Richard Ingham, Louise Major. Photo credit: Al Buntin

Scottish poet, Brian Johnstone, is a well- known figure on the Scottish poetry scene. He is a published poet with six collections to his name, a literary event organizer of broad experience and a live performer of his poems, both as a solo reader and with various musical collaborators.

Johnstone’s poetry has been published extensively across Scotland, in the rest of the UK, in the USA and Latin America, as well as in various European countries. The poet has given readings at numerous literary venues in Scotland, and at poetry festivals and other locations in England, around Europe and in Central and North America. His work has been translated into over a dozen European languages and is published in the respective countries. His latest poetry collection is Dry Stone Work.

As a live performer, Brian Johnstone is the poet/reader with Trio Verso, also featuring Richard Ingham (saxes, bass clarinet) and Louise Major (bass). Performing poetry & jazz improv since 2007, the trio has appeared at festivals and literary venues across Scotland, making its first appearance in England in 2011, at the Ted Hughes Festival. Their CD Storm Chaser appeared in 2010.

The recipient of a Scottish Arts Council Writer’s Bursary in 1998, Brian Johnstone has also received a number of Development Awards from the SAC and Creative Scotland. A prizewinner in the National Poetry Competition in 2000, he has won several other competitions, including the Writers’ Bureau Prize, the Mallard Prize and Poetry at the Fringe, during the Edinburgh Festival.

In 1991, he was a founder of Edinburgh’s Shore Poets and, throughout the 1990s, ran the Cave Readings series for the Pittenweem Arts Festival. From 1998-2003, he taught creative writing in poetry for The University of St Andrews Centre for Continuing Education, and from 1998-2000, for the Open College of the Arts. A founder in 1998 of StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, he was Festival Director from 2001-2010 and remained on the staff as Festival Consultant until 2013. In 2014, he was appointed an Honorary President of StAnza.

Over the years, Brian Johnstone has organized poetry events for the Words Out! Festival, Perth; for Visual Arts Scotland; and for the American literary tour group, Book Adventures. He has been a frequent events chair for the Edinburgh International Book Festival and has judged poetry competitions, including the Wigtown Book Festival International Poetry Prize and the William Soutar Writing Prize, as well as serving on the panel for the Scottish Book Trust’s New Writers’ Awards.

This event is sponsored by Scottish Book Trust and begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free and everyone is welcome to join us for this lively gathering. We look forward to seeing all of you. Please note that there is no bar, so bring your own bottles.

Directions to Skeabost Memorial Hall: grid NG420484. A850, 4 miles from Portree on Dunvegan Rd. Last right before Skeabost Bridge, at Tote/Prabost/Peinmore turn. Immediate Left – look for lights. (18 miles from Dunvegan).



Celebrate Scottish Book Week with Brian Johnstone




NOVEMBER 25        7:30 PM





Photo credit: Jim Nock

Brian Johnstone with Trio Verso will perform poetry and jazz improv for our Book Week Scotland celebration, which is always a good party. This is sponsored by Scottish Book Trust, so while admittance is free, the entertainment is worth hightailing it to Skeabost Memorial Hall. Take advantage of this opportunity to see Johnstone, a prolific Scottish poet, writer and performer, whose work been translated into more than a dozen European languages, while he continues to maintain a high profile in the Scottish poetry scene as founder, organizer and competition judge.






Anthology Launch: Volume 2

7:30 pm


Volume 2 of our ‘Words from an Island’ Anthology Series


This was Volume 1
IMG_1217What colour will volume 2 be?

Come and see!


                                                       SKEABOST HOTEL                                



ENTRY £5 AT THE DOOR Members & contributors free



St. Kilda Evening with Roger Hutchinson

Whenever I feel myself getting close to writing some tired words about an extraordinary writer, I click for the Rebelle Society, a blog of wild souls, of uninhibited women writers. After carefully perusing the long list of titles written by Roger Hutchinson, I have decided he, too, must be dubbed a wild soul, and he has been put on the top of my anticipated reads.

The Reading Room is privileged to present Roger Hutchinson at the Skeabost Hotel on Tuesday, September 29. Lucky us.

Hutchinson has a penchant for compelling subjects; hence, for the bookshop browser, his books have a good chance of being selected from curiosity as well as hope for some interesting non-fiction. The author’s profile is visible to any visitor here on Skye, as a columnist for the West Highland Free Press. Look closer and you will see his prominent ‘Calum’s Road’ displayed in every shop where books are found. Calum was the last man in North Raasay in the late ’60s and Hutchinson has made sure the story of the road he built will live poignantly in our memories.

More of his books are easy finding: Angus MacPhee, of South Uist, spent fifty years in an asylum after WWII, as ‘The Silent Weaver’ of grass art objects. The famous shipwrecked ‘Polly’ of Whisky Galore fame is exposed by Hutchinson with humour and insight – a favorite book among his readers. Lord Leverhulme’s confrontation with Hebridean Islands seamen is fascinating reading, in ‘The Soap Man’. 

His eclectic output has included books on Aleister Crowley, James Boswell and ‘Euro-Slang: The Practical Language Guide to Boozing and Bonking from Mykonos to Malaga.’ (Did I say ‘wild soul’ with sense of humour?)  By Facebook remarks and his own books on games and sports, it is easy to deduce the author is also an avid sports follower. He was awarded  ‘British Weekly’ Sportswriter 1996.

At the September 29th Reading Room meeting, Roger will be talking about the research and writing of his latest book, ‘St Kilda: A People’s History’.  He says, ‘I’m really looking forward to meeting my friends from the Reading Room again, and talking about an island community even more distant than Skye!’


Roger Hutchinson on St. Kilda.

    The author remarks that St Kilda is the most romantic and most romanticised group of islands in Europe: ‘Soaring out of the North Atlantic Ocean like Atlantis come back to life, the islands have captured our imagination for hundreds of years.’ 
    Their inhabitants, Scottish Gaels who lived off the land, the sea and by birdcatching on St Kilda’s high and precipitous cliffs, were long considered to be the Noble Savages of the British Isles, living in a state of natural grace.
    ‘St Kilda: A People’s History’ explores and portrays the real life of the St Kildans from the Stone Age to the 20th century.
    Roger Hutchinson has 40 years experience of Hebridean islands and he digs deep into the archives to paint a vivid picture of the life and death, work and play of a small, proud and self-sufficient family.
    This book is a new and unprecedented history of the islands because it demolishes myths and shows how life really was lived in that beautiful archipelago.
    From the earliest Neolithic settlement to the voluntary evacuation in 1930, ‘St Kilda: A People’s History’ is a fascinating, funny and original account. It is the story not only of a sensational place, but also of the extraordinary people who called it home.

Everyone is welcome to attend our evening event, which will begin at 7:30 p.m., with ‘Glimpses of Hirta’ – a poem in two voices, by Linda Henderson.  
Our special guest, Roger Hutchinson, will take the floor immediately following Linda’s reading.
Please join us at Skeabost Hotel from 6 p.m., for supper in the dining rooms, or a light meal or snacks in the pub, before the event.
There will be a charge of £5 per head for non-members. Annual membership, which supports the work that we do throughout the year, is available on the door.