Rowena has been writing poetry seriously since 1997.  She writes in both English and Scots.

She has won the premier prize for Scots poetry, the McCash.

She has had many poems published in a variety of places, such as: The Herald, The Scots Magazine, Poetry Scotland, New Writing Scotland, Scottish Islands Explorer, Reach Poetry Magazine, Scottish Memories, iota, PsychoPoetica, Countryside Tales, Quantum Leap, The Friendship Book, Lallans and The Wild East (Hong Kong). 

Her poems have also been broadcast on the radio by the BBC. 

You'll find some sample poems on the page below.

Rowena has one individual collection, entitled The Chameleon of Happiness and one individual pamphlet of Scots poetry called Comin Oot in the Wash.  Contact her directly to purchase them.


Steep, steep into the valley

we descend,

to where a charred skeleton of cottage cowers,

fleshed now with snow.


Then climbing again,

echoes of our breaths

piling in drifts against the hill

as we trudge along with wind-slitted eyes.


Muddy ghosts haunt the path,

their bootprints the limit of our vision

yet larks flake from April sky

or swirl on high

in a blizzard of song.


Snowstorm passes like memory:

rainbows melt in every tussock,

dribbling colour like cries of moorland birds

over an ever-widening horizon.

Published in The Fireside Book 2018 (D C Thomson)


Dufton Pike wasn't a big hill:

but mirth slowed us down - 

it's hard to laugh and still climb.

We got to the cairn in perfect time for lunch. 

Flat rock, sun-warmed, and we were set. 

You dug in the khaki knapsack,

surely a casualty of at least one World War,

and came up with the goods.  Dry goods. 


You didn't do posh picnics.

Sandwiches are for sissies, you said.

Your idea of lunch just a trip to the butcher, the baker

(plenty of candlepower in the sun already).

No butter, no spread, mayonnaise a word

you'd struggle to spell, if you knew it at all.

You slapped the roll into my hand.  Slapped the meat

into the roll. While I slapped a smile onto my face.

Or tried.  What I wouldn't have given

for something just a little more moist.


Be careful what you ask for: your old refrain.

Moments later, clouds were mopping up sunshine

like bread with gravy, letting it ooze out as rain.

You took back the roll, held it high: sacrifice

to a rain god. Then, kidding on you were a waiter,

in a uniform as black as the sky,

and a phoney French accent,

you presented it to me with a flourish.

Marinated in laughter,

what should have been a soggy mess

became a banquet worthy of kings.


Since then, when it comes to picnics,

while most people are praying hard

for cloudless skies, I can?t help wishing

for a little rain.



Published in New Writing Scotland Volume 26 (Bucket of Frogs) 


ISBN 978-0-948877-87-2


Association for Scottish Literary Studies

Before the Scotland Match

City streets are pleated with supporters,

fold upon fold of kilt in every colour.

They explode from bus and train like party poppers,

streamers trailing from taxi stances

or knotted outside pubs.


They're accessorised with tammies and toories,

See You Jimmy! hats, even a Saltired Stetson.

Glengarries tickle grins with their homemade hackles

of foot-long pheasant feathers

while some go bare-headed:

everything from billiard-ball cool

to Hairy Mary how's yer Ma?


Scarves flutter, but there's not a coat in sight,

despite the autumn chill:

they have their enthusiasm to keep them warm.


A wee boy holds Daddy's hand,

huge in his excitement;

girlfriends add a fashionable twist

to kilt and Caterpillars -

still a statement of absolute support,

but softer, prettier.  Pink.

A hard man carries a soft toy:

gibbon in a Scotland strip.


Crusaders caped with flags, blue or golden hue,

cavort and dance, sure they know the truth

of today's result already, with their preview vision.

The passers-by smile.  Wish they could go, too.



Published in Poetry Scotland Issue 53


Presents and Absence

Presents breed beneath an artificial tree;

size and quantity valued more than thought

or time.


No time left - for you're no longer here.

No instant fix of comfort and joy

for me this year -

just cold turkey

followed by mince pies and sighs.


While white berries glisten their tears

for the missed kisses of mistletoe,

the family's conscience pricks and jags

in an abundance of holly.

Their dutiful deeds smother me

with an ivy stranglehold.


I'm encircled by wreaths

dark as depression,

except for red-berried guilt

glowing like coals of Hell

among the glossy green leaves.


Conversation is carefully wrapped

in glib messages of goodwill:

tissue thin and easily torn,

only the Sellotape® of good intentions

holds it together.


I'm so cold.


yet constantly surrounded;

a footprint in slowly melting snow.


Originally published in PsychoPoetica (Unversity of Hull) then in The Chameleon of Happiness


White Spirit Winter

Dark clouds stencil images

on a winter sky’s pale emulsion.


Rain glosses dead branches;

pushes back the protective sheet of snow,

revealing a residue of rotting

paint flake leaves.


Stripper has been brushed

over the grey primer of tree trunks

until they bubble with lichen.


Nature dabbles with special effects:

the distressed wood of peeling bark;

mock verdigris on North-facing boughs;

rag-rolled streams.


Waterfalls of white spirit

clean winter’s palette,

so all is in readiness

for a fresh coat


of leaves.


Published in The Fireside Book 2001 (D C Thomson)



Hormis la peinture et le jardinage,

je ne suis bon à rien.”[1]


A mirrored bridge

echoes painter reflected in gardener,

arabesque so exact

that up could be down, down up,

air, colour, light more real

than mere planks of wood.


Irises the deep purple of pleasure

unfurl at the edge,

tinting the day with midnight.

Painting them stained his fingers

just as earth daubed his hands

from their planting.


He serves us blossom on waterlily trays.

They blush at the coquetry

whispered by wind through willows

whose pashmina folds swirl

in an exuberance of green,

tasselled edges teasing water

where pine shimmers to lime:

shadows in a pool

playing kiss and tell

with nymphs

as the bowed lips of the bridge

and its reflection

gasp at a dragonfly’s iridescence.


Published in Reach Poetry Monthly

[1] “I’m good for nothing except painting and gardening”  Claude Monet