Visit Carolyn (Kari) Gillespie on Instagram, Twitter and her Website
Born and raised in Scotland, four years ago I moved South and now live in the Surrey Hills. After reading English at Oxford, a short career in publishing was followed by a longer career as an English teacher. On the wall above the smartboard in my classroom, the words ‘language is power’ made no secret of my agenda. Foremost in my teaching came a message that our experience of the world is formed and shaped by the words we choose; a close second came the creation of an environment that was comfortable enough for children to pause, to think, and to take the risk, to stretch a bit further and to reach, and reach. Underneath the board a second mantra was pinned: ‘Noli Timere’ it read, in 750pt Ariel Black. Finally taking my own advice, when I moved south, I gave up teaching in order to focus upon my writing. I recently completed and MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Surrey, for which I was awarded a Distinction.
My first book, Pilgrim, is a memoir of my journey to Santiago de Compostela, a pilgrimage of some 900kms. Long-distance walking is recalibrating for me: I find renewal and inspiration in the landscape and the people I encounter along the way. Two years ago, I walked the Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury and although plans to walk the Via Francigena are currently on hold, I hope to begin the walk as soon as I am able. I have written a collection of poems for children called Wonder Child – about a child’s encounters with awe -and recently finished my first novel, Visitation.
My work has appeared in Oddity magazine, Coin Operated Press’s Poetry zine and Scotland Outdoors. My poem, The Shadow Butterfly, was Highly Commended in the Wells Festival of Literature, 2021 and I have been shortlisted in both the Soutar and Fish poetry competitions. I was a panellist at the Guildford new Writers Festival 2020 where I read an extract from Pilgrim. I spoke on BBC Radio Surrey about the benefits of reading during lockdown and, I run creative writing workshops in schools.
Why do you travel?
What’s your go-to travel hack?
Got any gear you can’t travel without?
What destination are you eager to go back to?
I’m heading back on the Camino in September. This time I’m following the costal route from Porto to Santiago de Compostela, and am carrying on to Finisterre.
How do you stay safe when you’re travelling?
What’s the best way to experience a destination like a local?
What’s your favourite word in another language?