So . . . who is Simon Lamb? What lies behind the titles of "poet", "performer" and "storyteller"? Find out below, on a whistle-stop tour of his life and work so far.
(IN APPROX. 21 SCENES)
Simon Lamb grew up on the west coast of Scotland. Through his teens, he was a keen participant in the local amateur dramatics scene – both as a performer and a writer – with a deep love for watching musical theatre and listening to musical theatre cast albums, from which he first learned of his love for lyrics.
At school, his best subject was mathematics, and thus he found himself studying that discipline at the University of St Andrews. He wasn't to be kept from the stage, though, as he spent most of his time on or around them — and even found a way to deliver his final year maths presentation as a one-man show!
FACE FOR RADIO
A highlight of his time at university was hosting his own radio show on St Andrews Radio – Standing Ovation – which allowed him to share his extensive musical theatre cast album collection with listeners while talking about his love of theatre and all the latest dramatic goings-on in the theatre world.
. . . SAINSBURY'S?!
Post-maths degree, Simon volunteered in a local school to gain teaching experience, earning cash by working in a supermarket. One day, seemingly randomly, they asked him to perform poetry for customers at the front of the store — and the rest, as they say, is history! You can watch the entire Sainsbury's trilogy here.
Frustrated by increasingly frequent encounters with poor audience etiquette, Simon wrote a performance poem called A Miserable Night at the Theatre. He entered a local talent show with it, and went on to win Gaiety's Got Talent (on the night of his graduation, no less). You can watch the performance here.
That graduation was for his second degree, teaching, after which he relocated north up to stunning Caithness to take up a post in Lybster Primary School, where he used his interest in theatre and spoken word to the benefit of his students: writing school plays, classroom-themed poetry . . . and even the odd rap.
Simon volunteered for a short spell for North of Scotland Newspapers as their reviewer of children's books, books always having been a passion of his, and perhaps more important than ever in his then-current role as a teacher. He had a spread in the paper every three to four weeks.
A highlight of the calendar in the far north, the annual Caithness Music Festival provides opportunities to creatives of all ages. Simon and his students entered with ever-more ambitious work, culminating in 2018 with the "coup de théâtre" (adjudicator's comment) Classroom 2039.
Simon's legacy lives on at the Caithness Music Festival: the winner of the Original Verse (Primary School) category is now awarded The Simon Lamb Quill, the poet's gift to the festival to thank it for all it had offered him over the time he had lived in beautiful Caithness.
Some of Simon's most notable scripts away from school include Pass the Salt (On the Rocks Festival, 2013) and Time Begins at Midnight (SCDA One-Act Festival, 2017). Most recently, he conceived the format for Doormatters (Ayr Fort Players, 2022), an evening of newly-written monologues by Scottish writers.
Leaving full-time teaching in 2019 to finally follow his passions of writing and performing, Simon toured Scotland with a one-man poetry gig – affectionately named the Blue Triangle Tour after the design of his first logo – including a stop at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh.
To tie in with that first tour, Simon self-published his pamphlet Cathedral Sky, and went on to create a more substantial book at the end of 2021, When the Universe Creaks, featuring five poetry sequences. He typeset both works himself, a skill he continues to hone and use — and enjoy.
A member of the Scouts, Simon attends the biennial Scottish International Patrol Jamborette in Blair Atholl. There, he has written and performed a number of extended poems about the camp, perhaps most notably his first, in 2012, I am a Scout. You can watch the entire Blair Atholl quartet here.
In the summer of 2017, Simon was challenged to write a new campfire song . . . and the resulting earworm has haunted him ever since. What Colour Is Your Spork? is now an established campfire hit, and is possibly Simon's most recognisable piece of work to date. (It's orange, by the way.)
Simon's time is now mostly spent in schools, not as a teacher, but as a workshop facilitator. He uses all he learned during his years in the classroom to create impactful and memorable experiences for students and staff. Simon can be found on the Scottish Book Trust's Author Directory here.
Simon is an apprentice storyteller at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh. Coming to the end of his apprenticeship, Simon loves holding an audience, guiding them through a tale. He has participated in and delivered storytelling workshops, and enjoys giving old tales a new voice.
Simon has delivered commission pieces for a wide variety of organisations, both big and small. He wrote a piece for the re-opening of the Edinburgh Playhouse – the largest all-seated theatre venue in the UK – in 2021, here, and put a spin on a Scottish classic for the Herries-Maxwell curling trophy in 2023.
TAM TAE MAT
That "Scottish classic" was Tam o' Shanter, Simon's party piece. In 2020, he reimagined the entire poem (all 228 lines) for modern audiences – and younger ears – as Mat o' Shanter, set on the shore of Prestwick town. You can watch a film of the poem, captured entirely on location, here.
Simon is the Scriever – the writer-in-residence – at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, Ayrshire, 2022–25. This position sees Simon creating new work and celebrating Burns and Scottish literature. He is also the poet-in-residence at Eglinton Country Park, 2023.
In 2023, Simon's debut poetry collection for readers of all ages was published by Scallywag Press in a beautiful hardback gift edition, fully-illustrated by former Children's Laureate Chris Riddell. Typeset by Simon, it is his proudest work to date, and he is honoured to have Chris's talent illustrating all fifty poems.
You can keep up to date with all the latest by following Simon's social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, X and YouTube. You'll be the first to hear about new books, upcoming performances and all the other things that make up the life of this poet, performer, storyteller.
APPROX 21 SCENES
And just to clear up the title of this tour – also used as some of Simon's social handles – "approx 21" is taken from the aforementioned one-man show at the end of his maths degree: A Mathematical Fable in Approx. 21 Words . . . which proved so popular it was restaged for a public performance. [Fin.]