When Jo Hastie joined Dundee University’s creative writing programme, she was so shy that she could not even read her work out to her fellow students.
A year on, and Jo has won a major poetry slam in Edinburgh, performed alongside Neil Hilborn, the most-watched poet on YouTube, and performed stand-up comedy.
To cap it all, she graduated with a Distinction from her Masters in Writing Practice and Study degree yesterday.
Jo, who is also known by her pen-name Jo Gilbert, said: “I initially joined the MLitt course because I wanted to write science fiction and fantasy, but was too scared to show anyone my work.
“If someone had told me that I would be a performance poet by the end of my degree, I’d have laughed in their face, yet here I am, writing and performing poetry.”
She credits her tutor, Lindsay Macgregor and her performance teacher Eddie Small for helping her develop her confidence.
Jo, from Aberdeen, said: “Lindsay introduced me to Tom Leonard, who writes in Glaswegian and I found poets like Harry Giles, Hollie McNish and Neil Hilborn from there.
“I watched them perform and thought – I want to do that, but in my native dialect, Doric.
“I started writing poems and with much encouragement from the tutors and Eddie’s performance classes, I was able to stand up and read out loud for the first time.
Jo won the All Women Poetry Slam in June in Edinburgh and is now becoming known as a stand-up comedian.
Her plans for the future include reading at the Federation of Writers Scotland Tinsel Tales in December and at Granite Noir in February, as well as developing a show for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.