Miriam Scott obituary

<span>Miriam Scott’s collection of poems Going to the Island (2000) is based on Bardsey Island, off the coast of north-west Wales, which she knew well.</span><span>Photograph: Ann Scott</span>
Miriam Scott’s collection of poems Going to the Island (2000) is based on Bardsey Island, off the coast of north-west Wales, which she knew well.Photograph: Ann Scott

My fellow poet Miriam Scott, who has died aged 76 after a long illness, was a feminist poet and editor. Under the name Diana Scott, she edited the anthology Bread and Roses: Women’s Poetry of the 19th and 20th Centuries (1982). Compiled to “give pleasure both to readers who have not read much poetry, and to those who feel that poetry is already very much part of their lives”, the book’s scholarly introduction sensitively addressed the nature of inspiration and of women’s writing at different times.

Miriam’s early poetry had appeared in the Arts Council’s New Poetry anthologies and in Gallery magazine, among other publications. She co-authored the influential pamphlet If Women Want to Speak, What Language Do They Use?, with Mary Coghill (1977); and, with Judith Kazantzis, Harriet Rose and me, was a member of Prodigal Daughters, an innovative women’s poetry theatre group of the mid-1970s to early 80s. Prodigal Daughters performed their own poems in dramatic sequences, together with dancers, musicians and singers.

Born in Waltham, Massachusetts, to Joan (nee Rawlinson), a language teacher from the Channel Islands, and David Scott, a technical journalist from the US, Miriam attended Woodhouse grammar school, Finchley, in north London, having moved to the UK at the age of two. She graduated in drama and modern Greek from Birmingham University in 1968.

She then taught English as a foreign language, and undertook other part-time work while developing her own poetry and translating poetry from the Greek. In 1977, Miriam moved to Leeds, where two years later she married John Harris, and raised his young daughter, Kati, as her own, remaining close to her after she and John divorced in 1989. Miriam managed Leeds Accommodation Forum, a social enterprise supporting homeless people, until 2008.

Miriam had a fine alto voice, and during her years in Leeds she collaborated with the bass-baritone John Rath on singing translations of Schubert’s Die Winterreise and Die Schöne Müllerin, which were successfully performed.

Her collection of poems Going to the Island (2000) was created as part of the Opening Line, a writer development project run by the Word Hoard in partnership with Yorkshire Art Circus, based in Huddersfield. Described by the poet Ian Duhig as moving “beyond being records of events to becoming events in themselves, the achievement of a true poet”, Going to the Island is based on Bardsey Island, off the coast of north-west Wales, which Miriam knew well, but, as she wrote, “many other islands, real and imaginary, have also contributed”. Going to the Island was set to music and performed with Eilir Owen Griffiths at Leeds Lieder + in 2005.

Her last 15 years were spent in Pembrokeshire with Eliot Baron, whom she met in 2008 at a storytelling retreat held at the National Writing Centre of Wales at Tŷ Newydd. They lived in the village of Maidenwells and married in 2011. Miriam was active in poetry and storytelling groups, and she and Eliot sang at many community events and camping festivals.

She is survived by Eliot, Kati and by her sister, Ann.