Excited to share an excerpt from my fringe show starting next week in the Glasgow Review of Books.

Glasgow Review of Books

CATRIONA KNAPMAN is a Scottish writer and human rights worker. Originally from Glasgow she has lived in eight countries in four continents over the past ten years. She currently works on land and women’s rights in Burma/Myanmar where she has been based since 2012. Her writing has been published in Magma, Guernica, Poetry Scotland, Kweli, Tiferet and The Myanmar Times, among others. She has performed at Open Mic and poetry/music events in Yangon and around the world. ‘Out On The World’, her first solo spoken word show, is part of the Edinburgh PBH Fringe. See more at: and

Out On The World will be at Opium Bar on the Cowgate, Edinburgh at 16.15 from the 6-16 August 2016



In Nicaragua I lived in a small town in the mountains called Estelí. Estelí is situated on the PanAmerican Highway. To get anywhere from Estelí you…

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Powerful video … from justice to disappearance in Egypt

I lived in Egypt in 2012 and I remember it as a place of hope and change. It was one year after the revolution and while there were large protests and unrest, there was also a sense of dreams being possible, of individuals coming together being able to make a change in their country and their community. There was art everywhere, creativity everywhere and a strong sense of commitment to justice amongst many people that I met. People committing to justice not only in words, but through actions – be in through business or protests these people were living justice and a fairer country in their day to day lives.

I remember interviewing an Egyptian activist for the first time and being so surprised at how beautiful his ideals were. Perhaps I was naive about what justified activism, or perhaps he was naive about what could be achieved in this world, but either way I remember mostly being impressed at how beautiful his words were; how much he believed in those bohemian, idealist words like truth, justice and hope and how he was, even on the day we spoke, putting his life on the line to defend them through street battles with SCAF.

This powerful video highlights how much things have changed in Egypt since the military took back power in 2013. Those activists who believed in truth are now being tortured and disappeared. When I remember the hope that grew so quickly after the revolution, when I think of the Egypt of 2012 I feel so sad to think that the Egypt of 2016 no one is able to defend those ideals; that they are disappeared not even for speaking out, but for seeming like they might.

Changing Yangon – Pegu Club

Copyright Catriona Knapman

Children Play at the Pegu Club, Yangon, 2013: Copyright Catriona Knapman

“The Pegu Club seemed to be full of men on their way up or down…”

Quote from R.Kipling, From Sea to Sea

Once the exclusive club for British Expats during the Burmese Colonial period, now creaking floorboards, smashed windows, broken stairways the building are all that remain to show something of what it used to be … bridge games, ballroom dances, swirling stairwells, cocktails at four. It is waiting for a developer with a passion for restoring the past; however all the new apartment towers in the city suggest that they are not what most developers are dreaming for the new Yangon. There used to be a ‘no traditional dress’ rule which excluded the Burmese from entering the club, today Burmese children play together in the overgrown gardens … as we have all heard, times are changing in Yangon.


Burma/Myanmar is one of the countries featured in my Edinburgh Fringe Show ‘Out On The World’. 16.15 at Opium Bar on the Cowgate 6 – 16 August 2016.

Come along if you are in Edinburgh.


Information for travellers:

Visit the Pegu Club on Zagawar Street, off Pyay Road, near the Taw Win Centre, Yangon, Burma.
Entrance is free.

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Starting from poems … ending with a spoken word show

So… I am developing a show for the Edinburgh Fringe. 50 minutes of spoken word. Moving from doing open mics to doing a whole performance is quite a shift. My motivation for doing the show is exactly this – to learn from this process and hopefully create something entertaining and worth watching in the process.


Navigating my way around poems…..

To support my learning I am sharing some of my challenges here. Please share comments and ideas – I need support – your input is welcome!

My show concept is a journey through 3 countries where I have lived. Nicaragua – Egypt – Burma. I hope moving between the countries creates a flow which gives the show a narrative.

Here are some of the challenges I have encountered so far:

  1. Is it too serious? I write about issues of social justice, travel, political change, revolution. Some of these issues are quite heavy. Although there are light moments I am a little concerned about whether there will be enough humour. I am working to see how to build something funny into the moments between individual poems.
  2. Will people get bored of the sound of my voice? Maybe this is a challenge for all solo shows – but I am a little worried about people having to hear only my voice for 50 minutes. Is there a way to vary this? I am building in some music and space between countries to attempt to give people a break and a chance to absorb some of the ideas.
  3. Does the narrative hold up? I am writing about 3 countries. The journey between the countries creates a narrative and a progression which helps to hold the show together. My concern is about the narrative I tell of each individual country. I only have a short time to create a picture of each place. I am attempting to carefully chose poems which help to create a snapshot which is interesting and also challenges preconceptions. The poems also need to work as performance pieces – so this is not always easy to create. Given the choice between performance and narrative I am favouring performance at the moment. This means I might not be able to share everything about these countries, but that I have something more dynamic to perform.

Do you have any ideas about how to work around these challenges?

More reflections on the fringe soon.

My Journey to Edinburgh Fringe

Hello everyone,

I am writing to let you know I will perform at for 10 days at this year’s Edinburgh PBH Fringe. My show is called Out On The World. It is a journey through poems across 3 countries: Nicaragua, Egypt and Nicaragua. Expect to go on a journey.

I will share more information about the show and preparing for the fringe here. At the moment I have been developing my flyer, reaching out to poetry and spoken word organisations in Scotland and finalising my script and wondering what I might have forgotten to do! There is a lot to remember!

My plan with the show is to learn by doing – how to create a narrative and a journey through poems which is entertaining and interesting for an audience. This is my first time to do something like this and developing an interesting hour of spoken word is not easy. Wondering – will people get tired of the sound of my voice?

I will share more as I get going in this month of preparation.

Looking forward to read your advice! Please share in the comments.


Draft flyer – 3 images of 3 countries.


I am writing a poem a day for April

Hello everyone,

April is National Poetry Month. Once again (for the third year in a row!) I am writing a poem a day for Tiferet Journal as part of their poemathon fundraiser.

*You might remember this and this from last year or this from my first year.*

A poem a day seems a lot, especially when you have a lot to do, but each time I commit I like the practice. I have found that a lot turns up in my writing by having to produce someone else will read at the end of day. It is also completely counter my tendency to write and then wait a long time to publish. It is a different rhythm and a good one. Things come up – both good and bad – then you can write about them.

This year I am enjoying writing about the changes in Yangon, as well as observing what comes up from my sub-concious. I hope to also explore some more performance poems, if I find the right inspiration.

You can read what I have been writing here and here I will also post poems to this site.

Also – very importantly – you can show your support to this creative month and give a few dollars to poetry by sponsoring me. Follow this link and click on the sponsor a poet button.

Lots of love,


A lovely mandala which was shared as writing prompt.