Em is a poet, workshop facilitator, and Reader with Open Book. Over the past decade, she has taught Creative Writing in public workshop settings, schools, universities and prisons, and continues to perform her poetry at venues across the UK.
Her first collection, Bird-Woman, was published by Shearsman in 2016. In 2017, Bird-Woman was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Best First Collection Prize, and won the Saltire Poetry Book of the Year. Her second collection, Horse-Man, came out with Shearsman in September 2019.
It’s impossible not to want to read on. Bird-Woman is a powerful first collection whose poems enter the bloodstream and remain.
Ian Seed, PN REVIEW, April 2017
Em worked for a number of years as Poetry Editor for Dark Mountain, where she devised and lead-edited Uncivilsed Poetics in 2016. Her work has been commended in the McLellan and Wigtown Poetry Competitions, and shortlisted in the 2014 Bridport Prize. In the same year, she was recipient of a Scottish Book Trust New Writer Award, which included a year’s mentoring with poet, Jen Hadfield. In 2016, her work was selected for the Forward Book of Poetry 2017.
The 2016 issue of Dark Mountain is just superb. I haven’t run across a book this nourishing in a long, long time. Thank you.
Jan Zwicky, Poet, Philosopher, Editor, Musician
Her first chapbook, Stone, illustrated by visual artist, Mat Osmond, came out in March 2016 with Atlantic Press. ‘Stone’ is a long, narrative poem for two voices. All proceeds from the sale of the book go to Scottish charity, Trees for Life.
Em has a PhD in Creative Writing (ecological poetry) at the University of Glasgow. Her writing preoccupations are with ‘nature’ (birds and horses feature in almost all her poems) and spirituality; in particular, what does it mean to be human during an era of unprecedented ecological, social and economic crises?
Em is particularly interested in embodied practice: how breath, movement and voice inform and engage both writer and audience. She has been exploring this since 2013 with Kath Burlinson, Paul Oertel and Nancy Spanier.
Em facilitates workshops in Embodied Poetry in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and twice yearly residentials on the Isle of Lismore. See ‘workshops’ tab for more details.
Ears buzzing from just listening to the most amazing poem/performance/sound piece by Em Strang.
Colin Herd, Poet and Lecturer in Creative Writing at Glasgow University
We are losing everything. In the second decade of the 21st century, loss and grief have become our daily bread, but we do not know how to chew it. Horse-Man is an invitation to reacquaint ourselves with the lost skill of co-sufficiency; to re-engage with a deeper awareness of shared experience, where distinctions between self and other begin to blur: we are all in this together.
Horse-Man inhabits at times surreal, at times mystical territory, where the human and nonhuman merge and blend. In this liminal space, loss and grief are acknowledged and sometimes embraced, allowing the human small mercies in the face of That Which Is Greater Than Us.
Part keening, part celebration, Horse-Man immerses the reader in a powerful advocacy of sacred meaning and – fiercely, bravely – asks what it might mean to be whole, a fully embodied human being, in today’s world.
Best read by candlelight.
[Cover art by Kate Walters]
Delving Into Fiction
In 2018, Em began work on a novella, QUINN, that explores incarceration, gender dynamics and radical forgiveness. This was shortlisted for the 2019 Fitzcarraldo Novel Prize (https://fitzcarraldoeditions.com/prizes/novel-prize). She is currently seeking a publisher for QUINN, and is working on her second novella.