Birthday Event at the Mitchell Library [more]

Eddie @ 90 [more]

Dreams and Other Nightmares [more]

Edwin Morgan marks 90th birthday [more]

Edwin Morgan turns 90: Tributes to a national treasure [more]

Edwin Morgan at 90 [more]

Poetry - Edwin Morgan at 90 [more]

Poetry - 26th April 2010 [more]

New poems and a riddle for Scots Makar’s 90th birthday [more]

Edwin Morgan - Photos by Alex Boyd [more]

Carry a Poem • Edwin Morgan [more]

Why Edwin Morgan is still Scotland’s best-loved poet [more]

The First Men On Mercury • A comic adaption by METAPHROG [more]

 

 

Birthday Event at the Mitchell Library, Glasgow
27/04/2010

Eddie @ 90
Click the photo to see photos of the birthday event at the Mitchell.

Edwin Morgans says "Thank you!" to all those who sent him their good wishes for his 90th birthday!

 

Eddie @ 90

Edited by Robyn Marsack & Hamish Whyte
Scottish Poetry Library and Mariscat Press
£10. Visit: www.spl.org.uk

© 2010 The Edwin Morgan Archive at the Scottish Poetry Library, individual authors and copyright holders.

 

Eddie @ 90

Edited by Robyn Marsack [Scottish Poetry Library] & Hamish Whyte [Mariscat Press]
£10. Visit: www.spl.org.uk

‘The boy is coming on. Let's print
Congratulations in hard copy,
Nothing stinted, nothing sloppy.’

 

Edwin Morgan is the country’s most distinguished living author, the most wide-ranging, expansive and inclusive poet Scotland has ever had.

Eddie@90 is a celebration of his life and work, a collection of tributes from 80 of Morgan’s friends and admirers all sharing their memories, affection and appreciation of the man and his work.
Contributors

Eddie@90 features tributes in poem and prose from Alex Salmond, Carol Ann Duffy, Seamus Heaney, Alasdair Gray and scores more poets, writers, librarians, councillors, actors, singers, editors and artists. Designed by Iain McIntosh, based on original identity by Mary Hutchison.
The editors

Robyn Marsack is the Director of the Scottish Poetry Library; Hamish Whyte is Morgan's friend and publisher of over 20 years.

Read Eddie@90 here, a collection of tributes for his 90th birthday, published by the Scottish Poetry Library and Mariscat Press, 27 April 2010.

© 2010 The Edwin Morgan Archive at the Scottish Poetry Library, individual authors and copyright holders. Visit: www.spl.org.uk

 

Dreams an other nightmares

£9. Visit: www.spl.org.uk

 

Dreams and Other Nightmares

Dreams and Other Nightmares: New and Uncollected Poems 1954-2009

By Edwin Morgan

Ten years on from Unknown is Best, Morgan celebrates his 90th birthday with a new collection.

The surprises that lie in wait for those who adventure into the unknown have always delighted Edwin Morgan. By now, generations of readers have accompanied him on unusual voyages through time and space, in this world and beyond.

At 90 years of age he continues to explore existence, through translations, memories, dreams and other nightmares. These new and uncollected poems draw upon the whole range of his writing life from 1954 to 2009. They invite us to go with the poet yet once more to observe the unknown through the lens of his remarkable imagination.

Find more information here
£9. Visit: www.spl.org.uk

Herald Scotland

Edwin Morgan's 90th Birthday

Edwin Morgan celebrated his 90th birthday last night

The Herald

 

Dreams and other nightmares

Dreams and Other Nightmares, New and Uncollected Poems 1954-2009, published by Mariscat Press

 

Edwin Morgan marks 90th birthday

Phil Miller, Arts Correspondent
28 Apr 2010


Edwin Morgan, Scotland’s national poet, celebrated his 90th birthday last night at a private gathering in Glasgow’s Mitchell Library.

For the poet, who has been battling ill health for a number of years, it was also a double celebration, marking as it did the launch of a new book of his poetry: Dreams and Other Nightmares, New and Uncollected Poems 1954-2009, published by Mariscat Press.

The national poet for Scotland sifted through his works dating back to 1954 for his anthology.
Glasgow-born Morgan was aided in the selection process by friends and fellow poets including publisher Hamish Whyte and James McGonigal, a Glasgow University professor.
The collection includes unpublished poems from personal archives, which are now held in his honour at the Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh.

On the Makar’s 89th birthday, Mr Whyte handed over the Edwin Morgan Archive, which he amassed over 30 years.

Yesterday, Morgan said the poems of the book’s title are based on actual nightmares and other kinds of dreams he has had recently.

 

 

Edwin Morgan

Edwin Morgan's verse is still fresh as he celebrates his 90th birthday

 

The Scotsman

 

Edwin Morgan turns 90: Tributes to a national treasure

Published Date: 27 April 2010
By Peggy Hughes

As Scotland's makar Edwin Morgan turns 90, the literary world salutes an indomitable genius

ON TUESDAY this week, Edwin Morgan will turn 90. He means many things to a great many people: mercurial, indomitable, shamanistic, a boundary breaker, generous, a genius, Scottish and international, ageless. So here's to Eddie, Scotland's makar, 'the capo di capo', the grandest of grand old men, in advance of his day.

A L Kennedy: writer

Edwin Morgan has always been an example of how to truly be a writer, the real thing – how to be generous with time and words and actions, how to keep a young and agile and enquiring imagination, how to be kind and human and a good person, how to communicate with heart. I saw Edwin read when I was a schoolgirl, never thinking that I would write. My first boyfriend (who was not a good boyfriend) read me Edwin's love poems over the phone (they were very good love poems) and one of the very first readings I gave myself was alongside Edwin and it made me proud and terrified to the soles of my shoes. He's a great man and a great treasure and all good things to him always.

Hamish Whyte: Edwin's editor, publisher and friend

One of the things I like about Eddie's poetry is the restless energy it can exhibit – constantly investigating new areas, trying different voices, experimenting with new forms, in a relentless exploration of what it is to be human – and even beyond human. ('nothing is not giving messages' he says). He's indomitable in his work and as a person.

Robyn Marsack: director of the Scottish Poetry Library

How marvellous it is for Scotland to have as its national poet a writer so open, adventurous, curious, encouraging, energetic, humane. All the things Edwin wishes for the country's politicians, in their new building, he has been in his work, with the vital added component of immense linguistic gifts, and a spirit of playfulness that works against the Calvinist bent he also understands. There are single poems I treasure, as many readers do, but it's the whole work (including the latest volume) that I'd like to salute, the magnificent, life-long devotion to the art of poetry.

Hayden Murphy: journalist and friend

We embrace; geographically distant, emotionally entwined; as he goes into his 90s and I for one (among the many I'm sure) know that Yes, yes, yes, he "is the man" of words, of fidelities to same, of knowledge that the imperative is we share the same with all the passion and craft that he himself has made his art. In his generosity we privileged to know him also know he is ageless; a Blake Innocent among us.

Janice Galloway: writer

The first words I read of Eddie's were the Loch Ness Monster's Song. I was a music student at the time and discovered a poem that didn't need any to be a song. Mr Morgan is a kind of shaman, making sense out of nonsense and clearer sense out of that which begins as rational. His use of noise – a music – in words is something I cherish.

Andrew Greig: writer

I have a photo here on the window ledge of my writing shed. Taken in the last year he lived in Whittingehame Court, at the end of a meal. The table is crowded: plates, bottles, glasses. We – Iain Banks, Ken McLeod, Ron Butlin and myself – have eaten too much, drunk too much. Eddie has been on sparkling form; freed of the caution of his earlier years, he has been hilarious, hungry for news and gossip, witty, profound, informative. We are all looking, slightly glassy-eyed, towards the camera, toasting the moment. He is about to say "Have you boys ever tried absinthe? No? I have a bottle here, and I think we should try some."

That's Eddie Morgan, who has never ceased to explore and offer something new. He delighted in the ritual – the spoon, the sugar, the eye-blinking foulness of the stuff. Its full effects hit us only at Queen Street station, where, hallucinating slightly, we got ourselves ejected from the bar. All the way back to Edinburgh we raved about him, the writer and the man, a delight, an inspiration, utterly deserving of our homage and gratitude.

Ken Macleod: writer

Every memory I have of him is a fond memory: reading his poems in the Penguin Modern Poets (Bold, Braithwaite, Morgan), amazed to find a respected poet who wrote about space and computers, Glasgow and love; seeing him at the foot of a steep lecture theatre enacting his concrete poems, reckless of life and limb as he leaped about; several afternoons at his flat with other writers, at one of which we (well, mainly I) got drunk, and the following morning he faxed us a funny (and technically deft) poem about what he'd heard had happened to us on the way home. And seeing him quite unexpectedly a year or two ago at a reading in his honour, small and spry in his chair, and being quite overcome with affection for the man. Here's to him.

Gerry Cambridge, founder of Dark Horse magazine

What I most like about Eddie's poetry is its tykish optimism and energy. Almost a quarter of a century ago, coming out of the Harbour Arts Centre in Irvine under a brilliant full moon with other (then) young men and with Eddie, someone mentioned the beauty of the moon. Eddie, in that curious Protean voice: "Has anyone seen An American Werewolf in London? My fangs are growing longer by the minute."

Don Paterson: poet

Eddie is less a poet than a whole literature – he's the Scottish Pessoa, and one poetic personality was never going to be enough to contain such a planetary imagination. For that reason, he's easily the most broadly influential Scottish poet we're ever likely to see: every poet under the age of 70 has learnt from at least one Eddie. For me, it's the Eddie who wrote poems like the transcendentally moving From The Video Box, which starts as an hilarious skit about a guy in the final of an international jigsaw competition and slowly turns into a magnificent Zen prayer; what more can you ask of a poem than that it provokes two different kinds of weeping? It's also been a great gift to Scotland that Eddie seems to have suffered from what zoologists call 'negligible senescence' – his work so full of play and energy, it's always felt as if it was written in the full bloom of youth, as if he'd never known anything else.

Sheenagh Pugh: poet

Edwin Morgan is still writing and fast approaching 90? Hmm. Is there, anywhere, a writer living who is so eclectic, so universally erudite, so evidently not his purported age? If you read a new poem of his now, you could easily think it was by a man of 20 or 30, so fresh is his vision still and so unencumbered with habit or prejudice.... no, he can't be 90. That's just a rumour. Happy 30th, Mr Morgan.v

Dreams and Other Nightmares New and Uncollected Poems 1954 – 2009 is published by Mariscat Press.

This article was first published in Scotland On Sunday, April 25, 2010

 

 

Edwin Morgan at 90

Edwin Morgan at 90 by Stuart Miller and Lesley Duncan

 

Herald Scotland

 

Edwin Morgan at 90

 

On the eve of his 90th birthday, Scotland's poet laureate Edwin Morgan speaks to The Herald's Lesley Duncan about his new book of poems, Dreams and Other Nightmares:

Please, click here

 

Edwin Morgan at 90

Edwin Morgan at 90 by Stuart Miller and Lesley Duncan

 

 

Herald Scotland

 

 

 

The Herald

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Poetry - Edwin Morgan at 90

Lesley Duncan
27 Apr 2010

EDWIN MORGAN – POETIC PERSPECTIVES AT NINETY

Edwin Morgan, Scotland’s national poet, celebrates his ninetieth birthday today [April 27], and will attend a special birthday celebration at Glasgow’s Mitchell Library this evening. Last week I spoke to the veteran poet at his care home in the city’s West End. He sat in his customary easy-chair beside his desk, on which a computer screen has replaced the trusty typewriter of old. A portrait of him by Alasdair Gray looks down from the wall.
His voice retains its boyish eagerness. In spite of health problems, he is, as ever, thoughtful and thought-provoking. Best of all, he remains creative. A new collection of his poetry, Dreams and Other Nightmares, spanning his writing life from 1954 to the present, will be officially launched at tonight’s party. I ask him to talk a little about the book. The poems of the title, he explained, are based on actual nightmares and other kinds of dreams. “I found I was being almost bombarded with images and recollections and memories in a way that I thought would get into poetry. So I sat down and gradually the poems emerged from that. You could call them confessional poems - I don’t know.”
From the vantage point of 90 what did he consider the main achievements over his lifetime? “It’s probably not the poet’s own job to say which poems are good and which are not good,” he replies. “In some cases the poems I like of my own are not always the best known. Conversely, there are poems which, well, take their own place in a way that couldn’t be planned at all.” Pressed to single out particular pieces, or areas of his writing, he says, “I don’t have a favourite poem or group of poems. It’s tempting to do that but it’s probably wrong.”
In the case of his new poems, he wanted to set the poems out as actual, happenings, events. “I’m giving a kind of report on something that’s strange and unusual and not explained...It’s a very fascinating thing to go back and see if the dreams have much relevance to what you’re actually doing in life.
Before he became pre-eminently known as a poet, Edwin Morgan was a highly regarded lecturer in the English Department at Glasgow University and indeed had a personal chair in later years. Did he enjoy passing on his literary knowledge and enthusiasms to students? “Yes, I think so,” he reflects. “A poet regards himself or herself as a kind of link in a very long chain, although you can’t lay down the law about poetry. A lot of poetry, like any other arts, slides past the rational part of the mind. There is something mysterious about poetry in the end, something that resists being explained too much.”
All you can do, says Edwin Morgan, is give various pointers to what you enjoy and the kind of poetry you would like to see. “And of course it can help to see yourself as passing on the torch to another generation, but it would be foolish to think you could do this by yourself, obviously. We’re all part of some much larger attempt to make sense of things.”
Returning to the subject of nightmares, he says: “We all have dreams. I thought there was something to be done there, a new kind of poetry in which you’d be truthful as far as possible and yet at the same time might ‘subtle’ the reader into a new frame of mind. He cites the example of his poem Horsemen in the new collection. He’s not a horsey person, he says, and indeed finds them rather frightening. But his poem is his own reaction to images he’d actually dreamt. “After that it’s up to the reader to see what he can take from this!”
Edwin Morgan was born in Glasgow and still lives there. His poetry suggests a deep commitment to, and love, if not uncritical, of the place. Is that so? “Yes, I’m often referred to as a Glasgow poet,” he responds. “And, it’s quite true that many of the poems I’ve written are about Glasgow or are set off by thinking about Glasgow.” He adds that it’s a great challenge writing about a place where “some people are rather put off. It’s a kind of fear that some topics are more poetic than others.” He offers a startling juxtaposition to illustrate his point: it might still linger in people’s minds that “it’s perhaps easier or better to write about daffodils than about a strike, but I think that the strike and the daffodils can both be put into poetry!” What does he think of the contemporary literary scene in Scotland? ”The poetry scene in Scotland is fairly healthy,” he replies. “There are certainly more outlets for getting published than there used to be.”
Poets always have a certain sense of belonging to a very large group of writera, of artists, he says. “It’s all right as long as it’s not taken too far and becomes a kind of race to see who’s Number 1, who’s Number 2, and who’s Number 3... Give each writer a change to express himself or herself!”
Have contemporary Scottish poets an obligation towards the Scots language? “There’s a duty to develop the language, to feel yourself part of a larger sense of art,” he replies. He mentions Seamus Heaney, who “is very keen on the idea you can’t get everything into poetry, but you can try, and you can get quite close. I’m not sure I can go along with that!”
“I don’t think you should always be looking for a reaction to a poem,” Professor Morgan says. You should do what you can. If it’s no good you put it in the bin. If it’s got promise you work on it and hope to get it published. “Publication is quite important but not everything. It’s not the be-all and end-all.”
“I always say to people, try at least. See what you can do...You can dip your toes into this enormous ocean and can come up with a new kind of water, a new kind of fish, a new kind of landscape... A poet should be an explorer of some kind. You discover strange areas sometimes... You’ve got to do it. If you think you’re onto something good, you must keep at it.”
And the Scots language? “Well, it depends what you want to do,” he replies. “People have different talents, different gifts. There’s no prescription for all poetry to do one kind of thing. You have thoughts and desires for the continued health of poetry in Scotland. And you have a wide choice of languages, English, various kinds of Scots, and Gaelic.”
Here Morgan mentions the Greenock-born poet W S Graham who was in touch with the great T S Eliot in the 1940s and 50s. “Graham made a sound point. Don’t be too hasty to rush into it: Paradise Lost in the morning; Paradise Regained in the afternoon; and Restored in the evening.” His personal advice to the young Morgan was: “Give it time. You’re an intellectual poet... A poem should grow out of a body of experience that you and only you have.”
Apropos of TS Eliot, Edwin Morgan says, “I suppose Eliot warned Graham that Scottish poetry would be bombarded on all sides by people with ideas - should you write in Scots, should you write about your own place or not?” It all takes a bit of unravelling, says Morgan. “They’re all interesting, important questions. Plenty of material there!”
Does Professor Morgan have any favourite poems in the English canon? We all have our own special admirations,” he replies. When he began to write, the major influence on most young poets was Dylan Thomas, and there was the Surrealism Movement which often produced “quite difficult poetry.”
I’d earlier reminded Professor Morgan that I had taken his classes in Milton’s Paradise Lost at Gilmorehill (and still had the lecture notes in my loft). “Paradise Lost is unquestionably a great poem,” Morgan reflects. “It’s not an easy poem. It makes great demands on the reader, first of all to see what it’s about, then to be able to answer questions about language, about style, and about society. All things poetry should be writing about.” Turning from the seventeenth-century master, Dr Morgan offers some positive advice: “If you’re starting out as a young poet, don’t be discouraged. Other poets at an early age - think of Rimbaud in France - wrote great poetry in their teens. You can’t complain about that, can you?!”
Edwin Morgan’s many admirers, young and other, will offer him warmest wishes on this landmark ninetieth birthday. And here is a taster from his new collection, Dreams and Other Nightmares (Mariscat Press, £9). Professor Morgan talks about the poem above. – Lesley Duncan

HORSEMEN

It was late, a wintry evening, and I was in the old flat
looking out at everything familiar, all the details
of every neighbouring house quite clear under streetlights
when at the corner by the lamp I saw them – horses and
their men
talking together, their hoof clatter and whispering
(the Horseman’s Word I’d read about but cannot speak),
their great flanks, fetlocks, ancient and out of place
in Glasgow now, under the streetlamp at my corner
where they should not have been.
And as I stared at them talking together all at once
every light went out and I was left in darkness with
that sound
of hooves, beating, retreating -

 

 

Herald Scotland

 

The Herald

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Poetry - 26th April 2010

Lesley Duncan
26 Apr 2010

Edwin Morgan, Scotland's national poet, celebrates his 90th birthday tomorrow. In this poem, written a decade ago, he confronts looming old age in indomitable style. The piece was published originally in Unknown Is Best (Mariscat Press/Scottish Poetry Library).
Edwin Morgan, Scotland's national poet, celebrates his 90th birthday tomorrow. In this poem, written a decade ago, he confronts looming old age in indomitable style. The piece was published originally in Unknown Is Best (Mariscat Press/Scottish Poetry Library). In spite of health problems, Professor Morgan continues to be creative and indeed a new collection of his poetry, entitled Dreams and Other Nightmares (Mariscat Press, £9), will be launched tomorrow at his birthday celebrations. His many admirers will wish him a very happy day. - Lesley Duncan

 

AT EIGHTY

Push the boat out, companeros,
Push the boat out, whatever the sea.
Who says we cannot guide ourselves
through the boiling reefs, black as they are,
the enemy of us all makes sure of it!
Mariners, keep good watch always
for that last passage of blue water
we have heard of and long to reach
(no matter if we cannot, no matter!)
in our eighty-year-old timbers
leaky and patched as they are but sweet,
well seasoned with the scent of woods
long perished, serviceable still
in unarrested pungency
of salt and blistering sunlight. Out,
push it all out into the unknown!
Unknown is best, it beckons best,
like distant ships in mist, or bells
clanging ruthless from stormy buoys.

 

 

Herald Scotland

 

The Herald

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New poems and a riddle for Scots Makar’s 90th birthday

EXCLUSIVE: Brian Donnelly
Published on 30 Mar 2010

Unseen works from the fertile imagination of ailing Scots Makar Edwin Morgan, including poems penned just last year, are to be unveiled in a new collection on his 90th birthday.

The National Poet for Scotland sifted through his works dating back to 1954 – some of which he could not remember writing – for his anthology Dreams and Other Nightmares, to be published on April 27.

Today The Herald publishes a glimpse of the final work in the collection. A Riddle, below, is translated from Anglo-Saxon.

While Morgan’s friends said he was often over-critical in choosing his own work for the collection, the poet, who has been battling cancer, joked that not recalling some of the older poems helped his objectivity.

Glasgow-born Morgan was aided in the selection process by friends and fellow poets – publisher Hamish Whyte and James McGonigal, a Glasgow University professor.

The collection includes unpublished poems from personal archives, and will be the latest addition to a collection held in his honour at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh.

On the Makar’s 89th birthday, Mr Whyte handed over the Edwin Morgan Archive, which he amassed over 30 years.

Friends of Morgan, who had a stroke two years ago, say that despite his ill health he still embraces intellectual discussion.

He told The Herald yesterday that he enjoyed looking through older work, and added: “I still have poems in my head, although it is harder to get them down, my hand is shaky.”

Mr Whyte said: “Edwin Morgan has always regarded poetry as a means of exploration. At 90 he is still exploring existence, through translation, memories, dreams and other nightmares.

“These new and uncollected poems, some of which have never been published anywhere before, draw upon the whole range of his writing life, from 1954 to last year.

“They invite us to go with the poet yet once more to observe the unknown through the lens of his remarkable imagination.

“It includes work written since his last collection – the award-winning A Book of Lives from 2007 – and has the theme of dreams running through it.

“It’s an exciting prospect, and we – Eddie, James and myself – had great fun choosing the poems from a great variety of sources. Some of them he didn’t remember writing, but would look at them say, ‘that’s okay’ or ‘that’s not very good’.”

Mr Whyte has a record of editing outstanding poetry anthologies and worked on From Saturn To Glasgow: 50 Favourite Poems by Edwin Morgan with Robyn Marsack, director of the Scottish Poetry Library.

Ms Marsack said: “Edwin Morgan is not only our National Poet – widely read, studied at school, much loved by fellow authors as well as readers – but our international poet: a marvellous translator from many languages, notably French, Russian, Hungarian and Italian, and equally, translated into many languages, particularly Polish, Hungarian and French.

“He was a star of the international concrete poetry movement of the 1960s. His inventiveness is matched by his accessibility, a rare combination of formal skills, intellectual curiosity and emotional power. These qualities make him an energising model for other poets, and the most influential Scottish poet of the past 50 years.

“The collection reminds us of his years of achievement but also marks his determination to keep writing through the barriers of age and illness, with new poems that are ever more personal and affecting.”

His collection in the Scottish Poetry Library was made possible by grant funding, and the archive represents the most significant and accessible gathering of Morgan’s work. It includes items that have been annotated by the poet.

To mark his birthday last year, Morgan’s desk, chair, Adler Blue Bird typewriter and a bottle of absinthe to symbolise his fabled absinthe evenings were put on display at the library.

Dreams and Other Nightmares is published by Mariscat Press on April 27.

»A Riddle« - please read [HERE]

 

Edwin Morgan Photo by Alex Boyd

Edwin Morgan Photos


Photos by Alex Boyd

 

Carry a Poem

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Carry a Poem

Rory Bremner carries his in his head. Lorraine Kelly pins hers to her jacket. How do you carry yours? In your wallet? In your pocket? On your Ipod? In February 2010 Edinburgh’s residents will be challenged to carry a poem as thousands of free Carry A Poem books and pocket poetry cards are handed out across the city as part of its fourth citywide reading campaign.

The free Carry a Poem book shows how Scots from all walks of life carry poems with them, and reveals the stories behind the poetry choices. The book will be distributed all across the city, through arts and leisure centres, libraries, cafes, and primary and secondary schools, with residents being called on to catch poetry fever this February.

It can be a verse, a haiku, a line or just a few words – but you’ll be amazed how much poetry you carry with you without even knowing it. Share your story and the poem you love with us – tell us how you carry yours!

If you don’t have a particular verse in mind – don’t worry – be inspired by the stories and poems in the book, on the website or at an event, and discover a new poem to carry with you.

 

BIOGRAPHY – EDWIN MORGAN

STEVE’S STORIES

CHRIS’S STORY: THE COMPUTER’S FIRST CHRISTMAS CARD

CLAIRE’S STORY: ‘WHEN YOU GO’ BY EDWIN MORGAN

 

 

TimesOnline

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From The Times

September 19, 2009

Why Edwin Morgan is still Scotland’s best-loved poet

With more than half a century of dazzling verse to his name, Morgan is the inspiration for an international competition. This year’s winner went to meet him.

Paul Batchelor

Edwin Morgan is the most mercurial of poets, equally happy writing concrete poems, sonnet sequences or developing new forms that magically fit their occasions. He finds subject matter everywhere: a consideration of William Wallace might sit alongside a tribute to Jimi Hendrix’s performance at Woodstock; and the reader can expect to be addressed by an apple or Emperor Hirohito or Edith Piaf. Or Gertrude Stein on Venus. Morgan’s work is lit with a tireless curiosity: “Deplore what is to be deplored,/ and then find out the rest”. Since his first publication in 1952, Morgan has produced a dazzling river of poetry, and the judgment of his fellow poet Liz Lochhead has become proverbial: “There is nothing he couldn’t make a poem out of.”
I am on my way to meet Morgan, having won the poetry competition named after him. I am accompanied by the poet and academic David Kinloch, who organises the competition. Kinloch was taught by Morgan at Glasgow University and the two have been friends since. He sums up Morgan’s influence: “His experimentation and his translation work expanded my sense of what a poem can be. He believes in opening doors.”
Morgan’s artistic adventurousness is remarkable, but [read on]

 

The First Men On Mercury

The First Men On Mercury
from the poem by Edwin Morgan • a comic adaption by METAPHROG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The First Men On Mercury

"When Duncan Jones at the Association for Scottish Literary Studies contacted us about a year ago to see if we would be interested in adapting The First Men on Mercury into comic form, we were thrilled. The poem, being largely dialogue based, perhaps lends itself more readily to a comic adaptation, and we also were excited about trying our hand at science fiction.

The only restriction we were given was that the comic had to fit on four A4 pages. Very quickly we came up with a proposed layout, which was revised two or three times, to get the pacing right. In the poem there is no narration, but we all thought that for the comic to work as a story, it would be necessary to show the arrival of the Earthmen on Mercury. This we kept silent. The original text was of course kept intact. We were acutely aware that by adding any images we were simultaneously going to be taking something away from a reader's own visual interpretation of the poem read as pure text, and so tried to be as sensitive as we could to this fact.
 
Working together on the Louis graphic novels we always find ourselves trying to solve visual story-telling problems that are peculiar to each story. Normally our process would involve working back and forth together from script to dummy and then to final layout. Here, we had to carefully discuss the possible interpretations and ideas that explode from a poem.
 
Over a period of about a  month, the comic developed from layouts to pencils, then to inks (rendered by hand using technical pens), and finally came to life in computer colour. A change from working on the Louis books, which are all hand painted.

It proved to be great fun and we were delighted to receive the poet's blessing. We hope you will enjoy our graphic interpretation of Edwin Morgan's original poem."

Sandra and John (metaphrog)

 

To mark National Poetry Day – 8 October 2009 – the Association for Scottish Literary Studies is distributing over 32,000 copies of a comic-strip adaptation of Edwin Morgan’s poem ‘The First Men on Mercury’ to every Secondary school pupil in the poet’s home city of Glasgow.

‘The First Men on Mercury’ is one of Edwin Morgan’s science fiction poems – fizzing with ideas and bubbling with invention. It’s simultaneously fascinating, funny and just a little bit disconcerting, as we witness first contact between the brave explorers from Earth and the native inhabitants of the planet Mercury.

The form of the poem makes it ideal for adaptation into comic-strip form. For this project, ASLS collaborated with metaphrog: the Glasgow-based duo behind the critically acclaimed Louis series of graphic novels.


 

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