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Edwin Morgan’s Book of Lives wins Sundial Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award
20/06/2008

The winner was announced at the annual Sundial Scottish Arts Council Book Awards ceremony which this year was held at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose, and hosted by writer and comedian Rory Bremner in the major highlight of the Festival weekend.

A Book of Lives is a triumphant achievement in one of the most illustrious and influential literary careers in the history of Scottish literature. Professor Morgan was appointed Scotland’s first ‘Makar’ or National Poet in 2004, and his prodigious oeuvre, which includes literary criticism, translation, essays, and drama as well as poetry, now spans over fifty years of work.

A Book of Lives marks a powerful distillation of the remarkably diverse range of themes, styles, and forms that characterise Morgan’s endlessly inventive poetic world. Confronting global issues such as the ‘war on terror’ and major historical events closer to home, such as Bannockburn or the opening of the Scottish Parliament, this is also a collection of remarkable personal candour and intimacy; at its heart is a major sequence, ‘Love and a Life’, exploring the eternal dynamic between life and art.

Describing the book Edwin Morgan stated: 'I believe there are no barriers in subject matter or style in poetry. And you can only persuade people of that if you're actually writing it....If it's any good, the collection must be more than just a book of lives. The title is meant to set you off thinking, off on a course of ideas.'

The difficult job of selecting the winner from the shortlist of four books was down to a distinguished judging panel comprising writer and broadcaster Janice Galloway; Professor of Literature, literary critic and poet Rory Watson; Lilias Fraser, Reader Development Officer at the Scottish Poetry Library; and Dr Gavin Wallace, Scottish Arts Council Head of Literature, who chaired the panel in a non-voting capacity.

Commenting on the winning book, the judges said: ‘A Book of Lives is a prodigious creative achievement by any standards from a poet who is, arguably, not just Scotland’s greatest living poet, but one of the greatest in English-language poetry world-wide. Morgan’s indomitable fascinations with energy, with transformation, with that which is beyond imagination itself, are superabundant here in a breathtaking variegation of form, style and subject: equally powerfully, this is a book of deeply moving – and often startling – personal candour and directness. To put it simply - A Book of Lives is a book for living.’

On presenting the award William Gray Muir, Director of Sundial Properties, the sponsor of the awards said - ‘It’s terrific to see that such an important and long standing figure in Scottish poetry is still at the top of his game, and it’s fantastic to be able to recognise him at this stage in such a successful career.’

The Award ceremony included readings and interviews with the four category winners -Ali Smith (Fiction), Robert MacFarlane (Non–Fiction), Jane McKee (First Book) and Edwin Morgan (Poetry) – who each received prizes of £5000, along with announcing Morgan as the overall winner – receiving an additional £20,000 – making these awards Scotland’s richest book awards and the fourth largest in the UK.

Borders Book Festival Director Alistair Moffat also commented ‘It's a wonderful fillip for the Borders Book Festival to host the awards, and we plan to help everyone celebrate in style. For that's what this is, a celebration of superb Scottish writing. Congratulations to all the short list and Edwin Morgan.’

Culture Minister Linda Fabiani who attended the awards ceremony said: “Edwin Morgan yet again shows what a joy and privilege it is to have him as our National Poet. I am thrilled that his latest work has been honoured as the Sundial Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year. I congratulate all the winners across the various categories, showing the excellence and diversity that is synonymous with contemporary Scottish literature.

www.scottisharts.org.uk/bookawards

From Scottish Arts Council

 

 

 

 

 

The Times

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Edwin Morgan wins 2008 Sundial prize
Scottish poet beats illness to win £25,000 Sundial Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year award

Mike Wade

Edwin Morgan has beaten illness and writer's block to win the £25,000 Sundial Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year last night with a new collection of poems.

When A Book of Lives was published last year, it followed a long period of illness for the 88-year-old poet. It proved well worth the wait: the writer Kathleen Jamie described it as “Olympian a in democratic way”, adding: “Thank God we have Edwin Morgan to show us how to live, and keep on living.”

Critics said that the collection was a distillation of the many themes and styles that have staked out Morgan's poetic world. Confronting global issues such as the war on terror and historical events closer to home, including the Battle of Bannockburn, it is also a book filled with intimacy.

The book opens with a poem to the inauguration of the Scottish Parliament. “What do the people want of the place? /They want it to be filled with thinking persons as open and adventurous as its architecture./ A nest of fearties is what they do not want.”

Morgan said of his book: “I believe there are no barriers in subject matter or style in poetry. And you can only persuade people of that if you're actually writing it. If it's any good, the collection must be more than just a book of lives. The title is meant to set you off thinking, off on a course of ideas.”

Morgan's book was chosen from among four categories winners. Ali Smith's Girl Meets Boy won best work of fiction, Robert MacFarlane's exploration of wild Britain, The Wild Places, won best work of non-fiction and Jane McKie's poetry collection, Morocco Rococo, was selected as the outstanding first book. They each won £5,000.

The awards were announced last night at the Border Book Festival in Melrose, at an event hosted by the comic impressionist Rory Bremner.

Gavin Wallace, chairman of the judging panel, said that the judges had faced a difficult task. “A Book of Lives is a prodigious creative achievement by any standards from a poet who is, arguably, not just Scotland's greatest living poet, but one of the greatest in English-language poetry world-wide.”

Previous winners of the award include the poet Norman MacCaig and the novelists A.L.Kennedy and James Robertson.

From The Times • June 20, 2008 • TimesOnline

 

 

 

The Herald

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Edwin Morgan wins £25,000 arts council award
PHIL MILLER, Arts Correspondent

Scotland's greatest living poet, Edwin Morgan, yesterday won one of the most prestigious prizes in Scottish literature.

The nation's Makar, or national poet, won the £25,000 Scottish Arts Council (SAC) book of the year award for his latest collection of poetry, A Book of Lives.

The poet, 88, was awarded the prize at the SAC award ceremony which this year was held for the first time at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose.
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The SAC described the book as being a "powerful distillation of the remarkably diverse range of themes, styles, and forms that characterise Morgan's endlessly inventive poetic world.

"Confronting global issues such as the war on terror' and major historical events closer to home, such as Bannockburn or the opening of the Scottish Parliament, this is also a collection of remarkable personal candour and intimacy; at its heart is a major sequence, Love and a Life, exploring the eternal dynamic between life and art."

Morgan described the process of writing the book as a process of breaking down barriers. "I believe there are no barriers in subject matter or style in poetry," he said.

"And you can only persuade people of that if you're actually writing it if it's any good, the collection must be more than just a book of lives. The title is meant to set you off thinking, off on a course of ideas."

The judging panel for the prize included the writer Janice Galloway, the academic, literary critic and poet Rory Watson, Lilias Fraser, the reader development officer at the Scottish Poetry Library and Dr Gavin Wallace, head of literature at the SAC.

Morgan won the prize after being shortlisted with Ali Smith, Robert MacFarlane and Jane McKee, who each received prizes of £5000.

The total prize-winning cheque of £25,000 - £20,000 for winning, £5000 for being shortlisted - makes it the fourth-most-lucrative prize in the UK.

Linda Fabiani, the Culture Minister, said: "Edwin Morgan yet again shows what a joy and privilege it is to have him as our National Poet."

The awards were sponsored by Sundial Properties.

From The Herald • June 21 2008

 

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