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It's fitting that Glasgow's City of Poets celebrates the life and work of
...since in 1999 Morgan became Glasgow’s first Poet Laureate –
a testament to his celebration of the modern city in all its
variations, his commitment to his native place and its people,
and his hope for Glasgow’s future.
Five years later, nearing the end of a career that spanned over half a century,
Morgan was appointed as the first modern Scots Makar
(Scotland’s Poet Laureate) in recognition of the brilliance of his wide-ranging
and forward-looking work, loved by many in Scotland and beyond.
A poet and translator, Edwin Morgan (1920-2010) taught English and American literature
at the University of. Glasgow. With the exception of the wartime years
where he was stationed in the Middle East,
Morgan lived in Glasgow all of his life and often wrote about his home city and its people.
In his poems Morgan observed the city-dwellers – such as
an old man ‘In the Snack-bar’ and ‘The Starlings in George Square’ –
and explored the beauty and brutality ofGlasgow’s industrial past.
Although he did not shy away from the darker undercurrents of violence, sectarianism and
social deprivation in Glasgow, Morgan also celebrated the resilient spirit of the city.
It was here in the 1960s that Morgan found ‘all things are possible’.
he rises with it
until he feels that he can never die—
Can it be like this, and is this what it means
in Glasgow now, writing as the aircraft roar
over building sites, in this warm west light
by the daffodil banks that were never so crowded and lavish—
green May, and the slow great blocks rising
under yellow tower cranes, concrete and glass and steel
out of a dour rubble it was and barefoot children gone—
(from ‘The Second Life’, 1968)
From his home on Great Western Road in Glasgow’s West End,
Morgan moved across the world and through space and time in creative journeys of exploration.
He translated poems and plays from many languages, including Hungarian, Russian,
Old English and French. In his writing he travelled back to Scotland’s primordial past,
forward to its imagined future, and out into the cosmic universe.
He also gave a voice to multiple others, including aliens on
Mercury, a hyena, and the Loch Ness Monster.
Established in 2012, the Edwin Morgan Trust works to carry out Edwin Morgan’s wish to support
emerging Scottish poets, and encourage the development of Scottish poetry and translation.
Through a range of proactive and responsive programmes, including the biennial Edwin Morgan Poetry Award and The Second Life Awards funding scheme,
the Trust aims to ensure that Morgan’s legacy can enable a new generation of Scottish poets to develop
their creativity both individually and in collaboration.
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