Past Poets 2021

Poet, composter and literary loner: Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (1797-1848) was one of Germany’s most significant writers of the nineteenth century. Born to an aristocratic catholic family, Droste-Hülshoff started composing poetry as a child and went onto be extremely prolific, with her work ranging from religious and pastoral poetry to ballads and ghost stories. She is also known for her novella, Die Judenbuche. Asteroid 12240 Droste-Hülshoff was named in her memory.

Scientist and poet Miroslav Holub (1923-1998) was born in Plzeň, a city in modern-day Czech Republic. Despite not being published in his homeland until after the fall of communism, his writing was well-known in English by the 1970s and his books were translated into over thirty different languages. His work as a pathologist and immunologist informed his writing, which was highly regarded by poets such as Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes. His influence can be discerned in Hughes’ work. The minor planet 7496 Miroslavholub, an outer main belt asteroid, is named in his honour.

Roddy Lumsden was born in St Andrews in 1966 and is the author of nine poetry collections (several of them nominated for Forward and T.S. Eliot prizes), the last of which was So Glad I'm Me (Bloodaxe, 2017). He also published several pamphlets and edited a number of landmark anthologies of new poetry including Identity Parade: New British & Irish Poets (Bloodaxe, 2010). An avid crossword and trivia buff, he won Radio 4's Round Britain Quiz in 2014, representing Scotland alongside crime novelist Val McDermid. He was Vice-Chair of the Poetry Society and also devoted himself to mentoring and supporting many young and developing poets. He appeared at StAnza several times and was Poet-in-Residence here in 2002. He died in January 2020.

Walter McCorrisken came to notoriety via a 'Scotland's Worst Poet' competition ran by the Glasgow Herald in 1976 (which he won by 'a country mile') and went on to become a fixture on the local folk scene, top the Scottish bestsellers book list and make many TV & Radio appearances, including on Michael Parkinsons chat show, twice! Despite his self-styled infamy, Walter was a comic-verse writer of no small talent, using old Scots to depict modern concerns of the working man such as Fish Suppers, having a wee drink, paens to beloved pet dugs and hilarious humourous epitaphs. Walter is remembered in the short film 'From Bad to Verse (aka the Renfrew Rhymer)' produced by Renfrew community film-maker Paul Russell with the assistance of Walters son Richard and featuring contributions from those who worked and performed with Walter.

Edwin Morgan (1920-2010) was born in Glasgow, a city which would go on to play a central role in his work. He served with the RAMC in the Middle East during World War II before becoming a lecturer in English at the University of Glasgow. He was Glasgow’s first Poet Laureate and from 2004 until 2010 served as Scotland's first Makar, or National Poet, a role which Morgan very much defined. He was made an OBE in 1982 and received the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2000. He published 25 collections of his own poetry, and translated hundreds of poems from Russian, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French and German. He also wrote in a range of other forms, from opera libretti to journalism.

Ruth Pitter (1897-1992) was the first woman to receive the Queen’s Gold Medal for poetry, in 1955, and in later years she became known to a wide audience through radio and television appearances. Her first poems were published when she was still at school, and Hilaire Belloc helped to publish her First Poems in 1920. She went on to write work which was praised by Yeats and C.S. Lewis, and was described by Lord David Cecil as ‘the most moving of living English poets, and one of the most original’. She won a number of awards for her work and became a CBE in 1979.