Modern Scottish poets rivaling Burns, from Carol Ann Duffy to Jackie Kay

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Robert Burns is a rightfully beloved figure and writer with no shortage of powerful works to perform and revisit year after year.

From A Red, Red Rose to Tam o’ Shanter, you’ve no doubt heard his poems once or twice and have probably made your way through Auld Lang Syne, drink in hand too.

But how many modern Scottish poets do you know? Can you name them or their work?

A portrait of Robert Burns. Credit: PA

As you tuck into your haggis, neeps and tatties and reflect on his genius on January 25, learn a little more about the poets living on your doorstep who are carrying forward his legacy.

Modern Scottish poets will rival Robert Burns

Kate Clanchy

Clanchy is a poet, writer and teacher specializing in poetry who explores the themes “men and boys, school and home, foreign and familiar, and the great adventure of parenthood but above all about love in all its forms”, explains Pan. Macmillan.

Born – 1965, Glasgow

Notable works – Slattern, Samarkand and Newborn

Awards – Eric Gregory Award, Forward Prizes for Poetry, Saltire Society Literary Awards, among others.

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Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy is Professor and Creative Director of the Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Duffy wrote poems on a variety of themes ranging from love to identity.

She even wrote the poem “September 2014” the day after the Scottish independence referendum.

Born – in 1955, Glasgow

Notable Works – The World’s Wide, Feminine Gospels, Rapture

Awards – UK Poet Laureate, EM Foster Prize, Lannan Literary Prize for Poetry, Honorary Member of the British Academy, Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), Commander of the Order of the Empire (CBE) and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) among others.

The National: Carol Ann Duffy speaking in 2018. Credit: PACarol Ann Duffy speaking in 2018. Credit: PA

Douglas Dunn

Douglas Dunn is a poet, editor and critic, as well as Emeritus Professor of English at St. Andrews University, where he founded his MLitt in Creative Writing program.

Dunn is known for writing about class and displacement as well as urban life and history, according to the Poetry Foundation.

Born – 1942, Inchinnan, Renfrewshire

Notable Works – Elegies, Terry Street, The Noise Of A Fly

Awards – Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, Cholmondeley Prize, Hawthornden Prize, Eric Gregory Prize among others .

John Glenday

John Glenday is a poet and addictions counselor at NHS Highland.

Based in Cawdor, Glenday explores themes that affect us, from family love to romantic love, in a way that is both intimate and slyly humorous.

Born – in 1952, Broughty Ferry

Notable works – The Apple Ghost, Undark, Grain, The Golden Mean

Awards – Scottish Arts Council Book Award, Roehampton Poetry Prize, shortlisted for the 2010 Ted Hughes Prize, among others.

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Kathleen Jamie

Kathleen Jamie is a poet and Chair of Creative Writing at the University of Stirling.

You will find that his work covers many topics ranging from questions of identity to the natural world.

Born – 1962, West of Scotland

Notable Works – Discoveries, Sightlines, Coating, The Treehouse

Awards – Forward Prize, the Scottish Book of the Year Award, Costa Poetry Award, shortlisted for the 2012 TS Eliot Prize, among others.

Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay is a poet, novelist and playwright, but she is also a professor of creative writing at Newcastle University and a cultural research fellow at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Born – 1961, Edinburgh

Notable works – The Lamplighter, Other Lovers, Maw Broon Monologues, Off Colour, The Adoption Papers.

Awards – National Poet for Scotland, Guardian Fiction Prize, Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book of the Year Award, CBE for Services to Literature among others.

The National: Jackie Kay.  Credit: PAJackie Kay. Credit: PA

Don Paterson

Don Paterson is not just a poet but a musician, publisher and professor at St Andrew’s University.

Paterson is recognized not only for his dark humor, but also for his technical skill and attention to poetic rhythm and style.

Born – 1963, Dundee

Notable Works – Nil Nil, God’s Gift to Women, Landing Light, Rain

Awards – Forward Award for Best First Book, TS Eliot Award and Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award, Forward Award for Best Book, Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, among others.

Robin Robertson

Robin Robertson has had a varied career as a poet, publisher and administrator.

His poetry appears regularly in journals such as the London Review of Books and the New York Review of Books.

Born – 1955, Scone

Notable Works – Grimoire, The Long Take, The Wrecking Light, A Painted Field

Awards – Best First Collection and Scottish First Book of the Year Award, EM Forster Award, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, TS Eliot Award, among others.


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