Scottish PEN is a centre of PEN International and not-for-profit organisation that champions freedom of expression and literature across borders.

We are a membership organisation and work with a range of writers, campaigners, activists and communities across Scotland and around the world.

Find out more about us.

All members of Scottish PEN subscribe to the PEN Charter.

Latest from our blog

Latest writing

Featured Member's Writing

Scott Martin

Ploughman, Poem for Scotland

The year was 1941, my father told me,
And by moonlight, as he ploughed the field,
Plough and harness a dull grey silver
The dark clouds parted, and revealed
Nazi bombers, bound for Clydebank,
High above over Abernyte,
The boy below, frozen in furrow
Reins in hand, awed by the sight.
I never thought he was the weaker,
In the face of brutality he never bowed down
And the boy, with the horse and the plough, entrusted,
Ploughed his seed into the ground.
I saw a man, just like my father,
In a field planting rice, in Vietnam.
So small he looked, against the bombers,
In the face of vain strength, a resolute man,
A ploughman, like my father
And a man of the land,
Although cultures divide them,
Together they stand.
In Bosnia, I saw the children who fled,
Their homes destroyed, their parents dead.
Their fields unploughed and the seeds unsown,
Their graves unmarked and their names unknown.
They spoke to me of the moonlight man,
Standing alone, with horse and plough,
More than speeches or politicians,
He led the way, he showed me how,
That to stand alone is no great shame
If something is taken in another’s name.
And remember, always, that you are a man
And the reins are held in your own hand
And that children are seeds as yet unsown,
Who may, come the harvest, be your own.

Our books

Book cover design


PENning, the Writers in Exile Committee’s biannual online journal, presents work by Scottish PEN’s member-writers alongside writing from people living in Scotland who are from other parts of the world.