Stateside milestone for Seil poet

Kenneth Steven with his new volume of poems Iona published in the States

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Seil poet Kenneth Steven is celebrating a literary milestone.

Iona, a volume of about 90 poems, has just been published in the States.

Mr Steven hopes to mark the occasion with an official launch on the collection’s island namesake Iona in early August.

The series of poems was picked up by New Jersey-based publishers Paracleat Press which took a shine to the work after years of Mr Steven trying to interest Stateside publishers.

‘It’s quite a milestone. I’d been trying for years but failing because I didn’t have a strong enough reputation in the States,’ he said. But all that is about to change.

When Paracleat Press, a Christian book publisher, read his work they were won over by it.

The poems in the Iona collection are a journey through the year – except some were written when he was just 18 and others when he was 48. ‘There’s years and years between them but there is a kind of semblance to the year,’ said Mr Steven, who describes himself as a literary crofter and works from a studio at his Balvicar home.

There are three sections to the volume. The first poems, about 30 of them, are looking forward to the coming of summer, being released from Perthshire where he grew up and being free of school.

The middle section is all his best-known poems, inspired by Celtic Christianity, his beloved Iona where he spent his summers and the Hebrides. Bookending it is poems blending with the end of year.

Iona, not to be confused with a publication of his poems in 2000 also called Iona, is available to buy on Amazon.

Although lockdown put paid to planned festival appearances and other events, there was also the UK publication of new poems in a book he called Out of the Ordinary, embracing sights, experiences and inspirations that bring joy.


Caption: Kenneth Steven with his new volume of poems Iona published in the States. Photograph: Kristina Hayward