Sarah Tripp book

A fast initiation and slow completion.’ Sarah Tripp

A long time ago, in January 2019, Sarah Tripp and I talked about her creating a project for MAP. It was to be a series of pieces gathered from a small group of invited artists, which would ask readers to consider how the conditions in which writing happens shape what is written. As project editor she would invite five others, and contribute a text condensed out of her upcoming book, Guitar! to be published by Book Works in 2020.

We discussed publication dates and word counts. Sarah ploughed into email discussion with artists. Form and formats were thought through. Potential content was sent and forwarded.

As the months progressed, the project still hadn’t taken flight. We were easy about this. Sometimes collections or ideas just naturally don’t come together. But as we were packing up, something else took root. Grafted onto the original idea, and perhaps stimulated by months of sporadic email exchange, the project shot off in a new direction. We dug down.

Sarah’s project went solo and was published online in late summer 2020—5 letters addressed to Dear Alice, written to all of us. In these she shares the sub-conscious power and delight of discovering words as they emerge from sleep with only the tiny light of a self-illuminating pen to guide her. It’s a playful suite, intimate, under cover of darkness, one that Sarah opens out in generous collaborative spirit with the film-maker Isobel Lutz-Smith (whose companion films can also be viewed online), with me, and MAP, and now with the recipients of the notebook which collects the letters with a set of writing exercises and empty pages to be filled. Something arriving in the post, to be enjoyed.

Alice Bain
Editorial director, MAP
Preface from The Self-Illuminating Pen


‘Pick up a pen. Or a pencil. Or a felt-tip. Or a crayon. There is plenty of blank paper right here. This book is really a note book, the blank pages are for you to fill. So no need to look for paper, you can start now.’ Extract from Exercise: Two Words

The utterances in your pocket multiply as the day goes along. Empty them out onto your lap, amplify them as the evening goes along. Hear them out. They have their own name, a provenance, a perspective. Listen more, listen again and again, rewind your memory. These notes anchor further consideration. From five minutes of idle consideration a myriad will grow late into the night.’ Extract from Exercise: Summit of the fridge


This handy notebook completes Sarah Tripp’s project with MAP.

The Self-Illuminating Pen first appeared on MAP in August 2020 as a series of letters and specially commissioned films by Isobel Lutz-Smith.…

The Self-Illuminating Pen notebook was published in November 2020 by MAP Editions in a print edition of 100. With cover artwork by Ciara Phillips, it contains 5 letters, 5 new writing exercises by Sarah Tripp and over 100 blank pages. ISBN 978-0-9931424-6-8

The edition has been made available by MAP free of charge. Our reservation list began when the project first went online, so there are only a very few copies left. Please contact for details on availability.


Guitar! (Bookworks 2020), by Sarah Tripp, has also recently been published. It describes the contours and conditions of writing—interrupted, in flashes, or in restless moments through the night. A narrator listens; as a child learns to speak there is a re-acquaintance with the strangeness of putting a feeling into words. There is a yearning for meeting and an idea of love or companionship as a sense of being met. Reading is punctuated by a series of black and white images of buskers, photographed by Francis McKee in Glasgow. Cover artwork by Ciara Phillips. Supported by Creative Scotland and Glasgow School of Art. To purchase or receive more information go to…


Sarah Tripp is an artist, writer and lecturer based in Glasgow. She lectures in Scotland and the United Kingdom and guest lectures at international universities. Her work has been published by Book Works (London), F.R. DAVID (Berlin), 2HB (Glasgow), Space Poetry (Denmark) and The Happy Hypocrite.

Isobel Lutz-Smith is a Scottish moving image artist based in Glasgow. In 2016 she graduated from the Master of Fine Art at Glasgow School of Art, as part of this programme she spent an exchange semester in Tokyo. Her work will feature in an upcoming issue of the Drouth.