Students given opportunity to work with award-winning author

An exciting project has been launched to help teenage students at a Kirkcudbright school to develop their creative writing skills through working with a well-known author with an international reputation.

The senior students, who attend Kirkcudbright Academy, will work with poet and writer Hugh McMillan to produce an anthology to be launched during Kirkcudbright Book Week, which happens between Monday February 27 and Saturday March 4, 2023.

The Kirkcudbright Book Week Society, which co-ordinates the event, secured funding from the Holywood Trust and the Galloway Association of Glasgow to allow it to recruit Hugh to work on the project. Both organisations support educational opportunities for young people.

Hugh will run eight weekly sessions with two senior classes. The aim is to create pieces that may be of use to the students’ folios but also produce work to display and publish for Kirkcudbright Book Week.

Hugh, who will also be one of the writers giving performances during Book Week, has published numerous collections of poetry and won many awards. He has appeared many times on radio and at literary festivals, including the Stanza International Festival, Wigtown International Book Festival in Scotland, and the Edmonton Poetry Festival in Canada.

The author, who is an experienced teacher of poetry and creative writing, and has taught in schools, at festivals and for community groups, said of the Kirkcudbright Academy project: “The Book Week organisers have shown great insight in wishing to encourage local talent, in general, and the young, in particular.

“It is hoped that work produced by the students in English and Scots as part of the project will appear in an anthology launched during Book Week. There will also be some workshops in Scots for younger pupils.”

Amy MacDougall, Principal Teacher of English, Modern Languages & Social Subjects at the Academy, said: “We are delighted to welcome Hugh into our Higher English classes this session. Our pupils spend a lot of time analysing poetry in the classroom but less time writing their own poems. We are hopeful that Hugh’s inspiration will lead them to being able to write a creative piece for their folio this year. As their teacher, I am taking lots of ideas from Hugh in order to improve my own teaching of creative writing. It is lovely to have a published poet working with us and his ideas are really allowing our imaginations to flow.”

Book Week Society Chair Chris Walker, from the Selkirk Arms, said: “Kirkcudbright Book Week is designed to appeal to people of all ages and I am delighted that we are able to work with such a well-respected author as Hugh McMillan to develop the students’ creative talents.”

The programme was recently announced for Kirkcudbright Book Week 2023, which is making a welcome return after twice being cancelled due to the covid outbreak, in 2021 and 2022. Among its events are two for young readers on Thursday March 2 when Kirkcudbright Library will host free events as part of World  Book Day, featuring appearances by children’s writers Greta Yorke and Alan McClure.

Kirkcudbright Book Week is designed to celebrate the developing literary scene in Kirkcudbright and the wider Dumfries and Galloway area and will feature both professional and aspiring authors. Events to be staged at venues in Kirkcudbright will include poetry and prose fiction and non-fiction performances by more than twenty writers as well as film, song and music. Some are paid-for events and some are free.

Kirkcudbright Book Week Society is supported by a number of organisations, sponsors and venues, many of which are featured in the programme and in the Sponsors section of its website  

A printed programme has been distributed across the area and the website also contains more information, including how to book tickets. You can also follow the event on Facebook and on Instagram at kbt.bookweek

The Holywood Trust is a charitable organisation, which aims to help young people aged 15–25 years old across Dumfries and Galloway through grant-giving to individuals and organisations, creating opportunities for young people in the region.

The Galloway Association of Glasgow is delighted to support the workshops for young people as part of Kirkcudbright Book Week, which will introduce them to the poetry and poets of Galloway. The Association welcomes applications for financial support from young Gallovidians to help them develop their skills in the arts and sports. More information is available at

The picture shows Hugh working with two senior pupils

Published by johndean1

I am a UK-based journalist and author

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