Culture/Arts in General

New Song with HLY FCK

Bring The Moon Home - Cover

HLY FCK ‘Bring the Moon Home’ (featuring Kevin MacNeil). On Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, TikTok, Amazon, Pandora, Deezer, Tidal, Napster, iHeartRadio, Instagram/Facebook and a bunch of other sites. 2,400 plays in its first day of existence. Excited about this one. Enjoy.

Culture/Arts in General

Akutagawa – Live in Stornoway, limited edition cassette available


Available for the first time, in a very limited edition, is the Akutagawa ‘Live in Stornoway’ album on (yellow) cassette. Akutagawa is Willie Campbell, Colin Macleod, Jane Hepburn Macmillan and Kevin MacNeil. This is a live recording of the gig they did to round off the Faclan festival at An Lanntair. Some of these songs also featured in the Stornoway Way play. Track listing:

SIDE ONE –  Red Clocks/Uaireadairean Dearga, Local Man Ruins Everything, Words, Seahorses/Faclan, Eich-Mhara, Natural, Miraculous/Nadurrach, Miorbhaileach

SIDE TWO – Akutagawa, Memory/Cuimhne, Every Month, Kingdom

A small number of these are for sale at £10 plus £3 p&p (overseas extra) – email to secure your copy, but be quick.




Culture/Arts in General

More Transparent Than Rain – a new poem/video

My latest contribution to alleviating that locked-down feeling is a poem (and accompanying video) that features on Hugh McMillan’s Pestilence Poems website. As reported by the BBC, Hugh has used this time of isolation to bring poets, readers, and, in this case greyhounds, together.

I have a real affinity for a Japanese writer of poems and stories, Miyazawa Kenji. His most famous poem is ‘Strong in the Rain’, and my poem is an admiring contemporary response to it.

The video is here and the words are below. The Burns and Donnchadh Bàn referred to are, of course, eminent Scottish poets.


More Transparent Than Rain 

More transparent than rain

Or at least so grey as to be invisible

In the interminable grey rain,

Accepting breathlessness and heartache,

Asthmatic eyes and blind lungs,

Too despondent to have the energy for anger

His belly half-full with gruel-grey porridge, rotten

Vegetables, and bruised burst fruits

He understands himself to be, from childhood, inferior.

He does not expect automatic doors or

Motion-sensitive lights to register his presence,

No worthwhile photograph of him exists.

He limps through damp draughty rooms which only

Spiders, moths and mould would call home, in a city

He has never recognised nor understood.

Whenever he meets someone he pictures the when

The how the aftermath of their death;

He has forgotten what it is to be spontaneous,

To be gigglingly happy or to live, but momentarily, free.

He is ceding the fight to be who he was meant to be.

His worst has bested him. Gossip misunderstood him wilfully;

No one sings his praises or witnesses the unearthly

Goodnesses he – simple, regular ex-star matter – achieves.


A poem where the poet is a compassionate deed,

A poem that’s epic, invisible, heroic – a sutra

Infused with the fallible Bodhisattva ideal – that is the kind

Of poet I would like to be, a reincarnation, perhaps

Not of Burns or Donnchadh Bàn but sincere, altruistic Miyazawa Kenji.


Image credit: Unknown author – Kamakura Museum of Literature archives




Culture/Arts in General

New Poems in The Bombay Literary Magazine

I am chuffed to have a couple of poems in the new edition of The Bombay Literary Magazine, especially this one. Thanks to Karen Mackay Design for design help.

Context: Poet Sorley Maclean referred to the ‘great dead bird of Scotland’, but to me Scotland looks like a Zen garden. My native Hebridean islands are depicted with the kanji for ‘Zen garden’. Please also check out the other poets in the magazine. 20191210_135534

Culture/Arts in General

An Interview with Argentina’s Brilliant Author, Mariana Enriquez

EDIT: If you are having issues with the link, please copy and paste (rather than click on) this URL:

Continuing my mission to alleviate the lockdown with literary treats, here is a discussion with one of the foremost writers in South America –  an audio interview I did with the renowned writer Mariana Enriquez in May 2017 in La Biela, Buenos Aires, Argentina on 18th May, 2017. I have never before published it, but do so now with Mariana’s permission. I am finding a new appreciation for real-life, real-time recordings – which this interview is. Both our voices are clear, and in the background you can hear the hustle and bustle of the famous cafe (which Borges and Bioy used to frequent). Mariana speaks with great intelligence and eloquence about lots of elements of her own work and Argentina’s literature (including, eg horror and reality, the body as a trope, politics, literary tradition and the contemporary, the gothic, Borges, Ocampo, publishing in Argentina and beyond, how she started as a writer etc, etc). I really value it and I hope Mariana’s fans, general readers and scholars will, too. Here’s that link to the interview again.marianakevinlabiela

Not the greatest photograph, even taking into account two of the authors are deceased!

L-R: Jorge Luis Borges, Kevin MacNeil, Adolfo Bioy Casares and interviewee Mariana Enriquez, May 2017, La Biela, Buenos Aires.

Culture/Arts in General

Japan-inspired Gaidhlig Poems


I have a number of Japan-inspired Gaelic poems in the shiny new edition of Northwords Now magazine. These appear under my Gaelic name, Caoimhin MacNèill.

The first one has an English translation. It is called ‘air plèana a tha mar chorrag a’ comharrachadh ris a’ ghealaich’/ ‘on a plane that is like a finger pointing to the moon’.

The second one is a kōan, and is called Kōan Kōfu. I wrote these poems in Kōfu and Tokyo in 2019.

The third one is a translation of a poem by Yamamoto Taro (1925-1988), and is called ‘taighean-solais’/’lighthouses’.



Culture/Arts in General

Hebridean Moon


I hope you are all keeping well. Above is a gratuitous photograph of Molly but here I have a new short story called Hebridean Moon courtesy of Pendemic 

Stay well and take care.

Culture/Arts in General

Molly the Greyhound Attends a Poetry Reading


Hello, everyone. I hope you are bearing up well during The Strangeness. I am going to try and contribute an occasional piece of work to help folks through the slight apocalypse. To that end, the Island Review has posted a video-poem featuring the lovely Molly. I have some projects going on in the background, including a new manuscript. This is a previously unpublished poem. I hope you enjoy it. Click here for the video-poem.

Culture/Arts in General

The Stornoway Way – now a play

Thank you to everyone who came to see my play The Stornoway Way. I adapted the play from the novel of the same name (Penguin Books), and Dogstar Theatre toured it very successfully around the country. Audience figures were gratifyingly high, with many of the shows sold out, and audience feedback is available to read beneath the images. Thank you to everyone involved.

PS It has been a few years since I updated this website (apologies). I have written or edited a book or two since then, plus I moved back to my native Scotland. I am now a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Stirling and I live with my rescue greyhound, Molly. I do have a few exciting writing projects on the go….


Photography credit: Leila Angus

Audience Feedback

I truly didn’t think the play would be anywhere as good as the book. I was wrong. Absolutely amazing night, we laughed, we cried, we loved it. Huge shout out to the three actresses from @dogstartheatre

Enjoyed the performance at Sabhal Mor Ostaig so much we journeyed to Inverness, two nights later to experience it all again.

Fabulous performances by three incredibly talented young actors
Emotional and humorous
Beautifully balanced production
Congratulations to All involved

I saw the play in Stornoway, loved it. Told the story well, made you think, made you feel blessed, made you think about life, love, family, friends, and a whole batch of other things. Oh, and the musical score is fantastic!!!

I’ve just seen The Stornoway Way in Stirling. Big thanks and love to Kevin, the actors and all involved for taking me so heartfully through the hurt and the hope of the world. Beautiful, sad, funny, and great songs!

it was ace. Thoroughly recommend it to anyone. Thought provoking, poignant, funny, sad, and a great conversation starter!!

Tonight we went to see The Stornoway Way at An Lanntair in Stornoway. I loved it and I laughed and I cried. Kevin cove, that was amazing.

Great play last night. Shed a tear – the girls were all superb.

Congratulations! It is a really moving, thought-provoking and funny play! Well done! Still has me thinking – and wanting to learn Gaelic. My dad was an alcoholic so it felt even more significant to me.

Just seen the play – it was amazing. Lived up to my expectations and more.

Stunning, moving performance, Kevin. Congratulations to you and the cast x

Every minute of this incredible haunting play , is filled with some of the most fluid , sincerely and haunting performances.

This being one of my favourite books , I’m so lucky to have the privilege of watching this play .

It is so true to it’s roots , it enhances the core of the message .

I was hypnotised by the utter beauty of the contemporary  set , and with the background and lighting , I felt there was a feeling of comforting twilight light thoughout it was gobsmaking .

From the powerfully emotional performances, to everyone’s flawless transition on stage, moved and managed by the incredible actors rendered us speak-less .

Every one or the actor’s sang beautifuly and played flawlessly. It was so subtlely done , from the heartwarming love sene to the tears in my eyes when the shoes came off at the end .

We didn’t want your play to end , thank you for bringing a different dimension to out beloved book . Funny inspiring a joy to watch . Thank you

Loved this from start to finish, combination of theatre & music was brilliant!

This is the best book I’ve ever read!! Ever! Go see if your in the area!!

Really enjoyed this show! Well done girls, brilliant performances, lovely writing and direction. Catch it on tour now..

Brilliant, brilliant night @EdenCourt Thank you

Awesome performances tonight from @dogstartheatre in #TheStornawayWay Funny, poignant and thought provoking. Check out where they are next and get along!

Thoroughly enjoyed @Kevin_MacNeil and @dogstartheatre’s The Stornoway Way in Kirkcaldy last night. Dark, funny, clever production, outstanding performances. Go see!

Best reason I’ve ever heard for going to Livingston. A really great play.

Lovely writing and performances from the cast @CottiersTheatre tonight #thestornowayway – funny, bleak and atmospheric. Like Scotland

I really enjoyed The Stornoway Way @Kevin_MacNeil – loved how it encapsulated that duality it spoke of: bleak, yet beautiful. Fabulous. Great job from @dogstartheatre – the actors must be knackered!

A most excellent night at the theatre last night to see @Kevin_MacNeil’s adaptation of The Stornoway Way. Gave me all the feels I remember from reading the novel. Catch it if you can!

I was so blown away by it, I just have to sit for a while. It’s hilarious, searing and achingly beautiful all at once.

Wonderful performance of The Stornoway Way @Cottiers_Venue tonight…Funny, poignant, powerful, thought provoking

Brilliant evening watching this poignant, subtle and funny account of a Scottish islander’s descent into the madness of alcoholism. The play charts the man’s collapse into ever-growing darkness, handling this toughest and darkest of subjects with humour, grace and a wryly believable humanity.

Just saw The Stornoway Way by Dogstar Theatre. Loved it. Fully embraces the nature of theatre to make something that is both faithful to the book and also entirely its own thing. Beautiful.

Great performance of The Stornoway Way at Eden Court tonight. Congratulations to cast and crew!

Read @Kevin_MacNeil #TheStornowayWay years ago, tonight went to @EdenCourt the watch the play. Wow, what a brilliant piece of theatre

Oh…. wow!!! @dogstartheatre it was beyond my greatest imagination!! The best!! Go girls!! You did us #storweigens proud!!! X with

@Kevin_MacNeil awesome writting #awseome #cleverness and we loved it

Love, whisky, self-destruction, jokes, songs, ace cast,

@Kevin_MacNeil ‘s zen wisdom Thats #thestornowayway

I was lucky enough to attend 2 recent performances of The Stornoway Way , firstly, last Thursday at Cottiers in Glasgow with my wife Linda and friends Dave and Jean, and then again last night with one of my sons (sadly son no.2 up to his neck in the delights of chemical engineering) at the Howden Park Centre in Livingston.Having been privileged to have lived the life in conjunction with the first job of my career in Stornoway between 1984 and 1986, Kevin MacNeil’s 2005 novel had always resonated strongly with me. I loved my 2 years amidst the beauty of the islands and the warmth, ingenuity, creativity and culture of the people.The play has added another dimension to the book and it is even more powerful particularly given the wonderful acting of Naomi Stirrat, Chloe-Ann Tylor and Rachel Kennedy and the brilliant contemporary and Gaelic songs interspersed throughout the play. Special credit to Naomi, Chloe-Ann and Rachel for giving the same high level of passion and performance to a packed Cottiers and a not-so packed Howden Park Centre(both great venues). Hope you play to packed houses for the rest of the tour – you all deserve nothing less. An absolute gem.So that’s the book and the play. Roll on the film!!!! Trainspotting for the Hebrides? Definitely.

Saw this at Reay. Very, very dynamic performances. Fab staging.

Just seen The Stornoway Way this evening in the Beacon Arts Centre. An absolutely outstanding evenings theatre.

I saw it at Lathron and thought it was great.

Congratulations on your beautiful play, Kevin – I plan to read more of your work and introduce it to my senior pupils! Enjoy every minute of the rest of the run.

Exceptional theatre …. saw it in @EdenCourt at the weekend and thought the acting and stamina, the writing and music all were outstanding – well done folks

Awesome performances tonight from @dogstartheatre in #TheStornawayWay Funny, poignant and thought provoking. Check out where they are next and get along!

Really enjoyed this show! Well done girls, brilliant performances, lovely writing and direction.

Absolutely amazing. Beautiful, funny & sad. Terrific theatre.


‘The Stornoway Way’ finds humour in dark tale of life on Lewis

Culture/Arts in General

Gratitude, B&F tour dates…


Time for some gratitude and some catching up! I’ve been meaning to write this blog for an age, but I’ve been too busy (in a good way). I am grateful to everyone who has supported The Brilliant & Forever, my new novel, which came out this year. The critical response has been wonderful, thoughtful, humbling:

The book has a slightly revamped cover, with a funky new title font and quotations from reviews added.
It’s been a joy and a privilege to read from The Brilliant & Forever and sign books at so many events and festivals already this year. I also loved doing events for the film I co-wrote, Hamish: The Movie, and for the book I wrote with Roseanne Watt (Shetland) and Alison Miller (Orkney).
Here are the upcoming dates on my B&F tour – I hope to see some of you there. Thank you again for appreciating The Brilliant & Forever and what it’s about, and for spreading the word.
I will blog again soon. I’m currently writing a new book which, true to form, is a little on the unexpected side…Anyway, here are those dates. Click on the links for more information. Thank you again.

25th August 2016 Blackwell’s Bookshop, Writers at the Fringe (evening)
26th August Far From the Madding Crowd, Linlithgow (evening)
27th August Edinburgh International Book Festival (morning)
16th-18th September Three Lochs Festival
23rd-25th August Wigtown Book Festival (island writing event and a solo perspective on Shakespeare’s The Tempest)
28th September-3rd October Manxfest, Isle of Man
13th October Arcadia University, Edinburgh
17th-22nd October Moniack Mhor
2nd-5th November Faclan Book festival, Stornoway (delivering the Royal Literary Fund talk and featuring in the debut live performance of Akutagawa, the new band with Willie Campbell, Colin ‘The Boy Who Trapped the Sun’ Macleod and me; listen to one of our songs here)
25th-27th November WordPlay, Shetland (tbc)
28th November University of Glasgow (lunchtime reading – open to public and students alike, more details nearer the time)