Demystifying the writing game, Ann Donald asks one of Scotland’s best- loved poets Edwin Morgan what makes him pick up the pen.
Name Edwin George Morgan.
Route to becoming a writer In one way it was quick and in another it was very long. 1 used to publish poetry in the school and Glasgow University magazines but then I had a major writer‘s block for ﬁve years when I got called up to the army. I tried to write but ljust couldn‘t. After I came out of the army 1 was very unsettled and it took until the early 50s until I started to write again.
Previous Jobs Only really being in the army if that counts and l was a university teacher until 1980 when I retired.
Daily Routine Well. I always get up and have breakfast around 8am and listen to the news on Radio Scotland. Then the moming is usually taken up with correspondence and business things. The afternoon can vary depending on whether I‘m visiting schools or writing. If I'm writing a biggish thing such as the play l‘vejust written for Communicado. then [‘11 clear the deck and concentrate on that.
Inﬂuences A huge number of different things influence my poems from things that have happened. to what I've seen. heard or read in the media or what my friends tell me. To a large extent I‘ve gone my own way so 1 can't really single out one person who influenced me on a personal or work basis. 1 do admire the work of US writer Hart Crane and books like Mob)‘ Dick and thtltering Heights.
Ambition When you get to my age the only thing you want to do is continue writing. I‘d also like to see in the year 2001.
Fears The fear of not being able to write anymore.
Income It all depends. but somewhere between 5210000 to £15.000. Then I've got my two pensions from the state and the university that probably add up to another £15,000.
As part of Glasgay.’ Edwin Morgan will be reading at the CCA on Fri 3. 7.15pm; Sat 4. noon at the opening of Glasgow Lesbian and Gay Centre and Sun 5. 7.45pm at the Cottier Theatre. Glasgow.
mamm- ALL WOMAN
I The Autobiography Paula Yates (HarperCollins £15.99) Here are a few things you might like to know about the model/journalist/mother/ author/T V presenter Paula Yates.
Her father ‘had a very big organ‘; she is a leading light of the temperance movement. never having touched a drop of alcohol in her life; she was a cleaner. She‘s slept with Koo Stark: she frames Quentin Tarantino‘s faxes; she's played Scrabble with Streisand: married Bob. is currently making whoopee with Michael and has three girls: Fifi. Peaches and Pixie. She‘s
received love notes from Jason of Take That; seen Chris Evans's willy; had her bosoms done; gossiped with Madonna and is on air-kissing terms with a lot of famous pe0ple including Demi Moore. Jack Nicholson. Ellen Barkin. Bono and David Bowie. to name drop but a handful.
If you like the super. sexy. sizzling. soaraway Sun newspaper or a good bit of salacious gossip every now and then. Paula’s your girl. Bear in mind long- time pal Jools Holland‘s recommendation on the back of the book jacket regarding the factual content of this hastily cobbled together montage of the 35-year-old‘s colourful life so far: ‘. . . much ofit is likely to be barefaced lies.‘ (Ann Donald)
I Junk Mail Will Self (Bloomsbury £9.99) In the introduction to this collection of essays. features and articles. Self maintains. ‘the sad fact is that all too often the pieces 1 have written that have required all the labour of lifting an arse cheek . . . have garnered more attention . . . than those I worked on for long periods and took seriously’. Whether this is some strangely inverted false modesty. sour grapes or simply an indication that his ‘serious‘ pieces are neither as clever or interesting as he thinks they are. Junk Mail remains a satisfying piece of dip- reading.
Considering the collection‘s title — and given the presence of a section entitled ‘On Drugs‘ — the temptation to view this. unseen. as ‘another piece of drug pornography‘ is strong. but should be ignored. as Self‘s writings around this theme are informed. assured and shy away from the ‘look at me' school. The bulk ofthe book. though. is taken up with ‘Other Things‘. His humorous pieces are funny. his book reviews - when favourable — do what all good book reviews do. and his conversations are. interestingly enough. both conversational and interesting. For those who can't be bothered with Self— as-novelist. this collection should come as a pleasant surprise. (Damien Love)
I Better Than Sex Hunter S. Thompson (Black Swan £6.99) Fear not. Although bearing alarming resemblance to the format of tacky money-spinners ‘written’ by third-rate comedians for the Christmas market. Thompson‘s still on form. Subtitled (deep breath) 'Confessions Of A Political Junkie Trapped Like A Rat In Mr Bill‘s Neighbourhood‘. Gonzo Papers Vol Four pokes wicked fun at the Clinton administration.
I Vamps And Tramps Camille Paglia (Penguin £8.99) A bewilderingly broad exercise in self-publicity. Paglia‘s ‘New Essays‘ extend to her published book reviews. reprints of cartoons and media articles written about her. and her mock agony column. In between. her bold and provocative essays attack familiar Paglia ground: American politics. sex. feminism. culture. the rich and the famous. Eclectic. sporadically tongue-in-cheek entertainment.
I The End or Innocence: Britain In The Time of AIDS Simon Garfield (Faber and Faber £7.99) Utilising a stunning mélange of statistics. history. photography. interviews and personal accounts. Garfield has produced a comprehensive study of the disease believed to have first occurred in Britain in 1959. Covering each and every implication and equated to And The Band Played On. this is genuinely moving. chilling. cautionary and educational — quite brilliant. (Susan Mackenzie)
I Said Sat 4. 7.30pm. Free. Street Level Gallery. 26 King Street. 552 2151. A poetry reading from the Iranian poet-in- exile now based in Germany. whose work has been described as ‘delightfully lucid and expressive‘. The reading is in German with English translation. I A. L. Kennedy Thurs 7. 8pm. CCA. 350 Sauchiehall Street. 332 7521. As part of the Engender series of talks throughout the autumn. top Scottish writer Kennedy will discuss her latest work So [Am Glad (Jonathan Cape £9.99). I Craig Charles Wed 8. 12.30—2pm. Dillons. 174 Argyle Street. 248 4814. The comedian launches his new book. I Andrew O’Hagan Wed 8. 6pm. Dillons. 174 Argyle Street. 248 4814. The author of The Missing (Macmillan £14.99) is signing c0pies of the book that explores the true-life stories of those featured in the burgeoning number of missing persons ads. I Malcolm Gluck Thurs 9. 6pm. Dillons. 174 Argyle Street. 248 4814. The man credited with revolutionising the wine- buying patterns of supermarket consumers talks about his new book Clack On High (Coronet £5.99). Wine tasting. I Alistair Paterson Thurs 9. 7.30pm. £3/£2 with free glass of wine. Glasgow Print Studio. 22 King Street. 552 0704. Open Circle presents poems read in English. French and German followed by Presences. with Alistair Paterson's voice and George Lyle on bass. I Dorothy Dunnett Thurs 9. 7pm. Waterstone‘s. 45 Princes Square. 221 9650. The bestselling historical novelist will sign copies of To Lie With Lions (Michael Joseph £15.99). the ﬁfth in the House Of Niccolo series. I Chris Ryan Tue 14. 6.30pm. Dillons. I74 Argyle Street. 248 4814. The man who evaded capture on the infamous Bravo Two Zero mission has written all about the experience in The One That Got Away (Century £14.99).
I Jackie Kay Wed 15. 7pm. CCA. 350 Sauchiehall Street. 332 0522. Worth checking out — this is bound to be good. A poetry reading from all-round renaissance woman Kay. now also a playwright and filmmaker.
I Edinburgh Writers Association Fri 3. 7.30pm. West End Hotel. Palmerston Place. £1.50/£l. Poems. pints and special guest Christine De Luca demonstrate the talents of the Writers Association.
I Dorothy Dunnett Sat 4. 1—2pm. James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. The bestselling historical novelist will be signing copies of her eagerly awaited fifth book in the House of Niccolo series called To Lie With Lions (Michael Joseph £15.99).
I T. Coraghessan Boyle Tue 7. 7pm. James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. Award-winning US author. whose toilet-based book The Road To Wellville was recently made into a film. will be reading from his new book. The Tortilla Curtain (Bloomsbury £15.99). full of his trademark verbal invention and comic touch. See preview.
I Andrew O’Hagan Tue 7. 8pm. £2/free for concessions. The Assembly Rooms. 54 George Street. 220 4349. The young Scottish author of the non-fiction book The Missing (Macmillan £14.99). exposing the stories behind the burgeoning number of Missing Persons ads. Part of Assembly Alive!
I Malcolm Gluck Wed 8. 7.30pm. Waterstone‘s. 83 George Street. 225 3436. The man credited with revolutionising supermarket wine buying will talk about his latest book Glue/c On High (Coronet £5.99).
I Jim Rogers Wed 8. 7pm. James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. This looks like being one of the best bets for novelty value alone. The author is the founder member of The Quantum Fund and undertook a 5000-mile motorcycle journey investing money along the way. A slideshow and talk will plug the book The Investment Biker: Around The World With Jim Rogers (Wylie £16).
I All Smith and Dilys Rose Sun 12. 8pm. £2/free for concessions. Assembly Rooms. 54 George Street. 220 4349. Readings from Smith whose first collection Free Love (Virago £7.99) is all about desire. memory. sexual ambiguity and the imagination and the vastly underrated Dilys Rose whose publications include the superior Red Tides (Minerva £6.99), Part of Assembly Alive!
I lion Butlin and Stewart Conn Mon 13. 7pm. James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. Stalwarts of the Scottish poetry scene will be reading from their respective new works Histories of Desire (Bloodaxe £6.95) and In The Blood (Bloodaxe £6.95).
I Douglas Coupland Tue 14. 7pm. Waterstone‘s. l3 Princes Street. 556 3034. The man credited with naming the infamous Generation X will be talking about his latest book Mieroserjs (Bartholomew £9.99).
I Jackie Kay Tue 14. 8pm. Assembly Rooms. 54 George Street. 220 4349. Edinburgh-born. now London-based renaissance woman who counts poetry. playwrighting and filmmaking among her talents. Tonight it's a poetry reading from work that is tough. painful and funny. Part of Assembly Alive!
I Simon Armitage Wed 15. 7.45pm. £3 (£2). Netherbow Theatre. High Street. 556 9579. The Yorkshire poet and Sunday Times New Writer of the Year reads from his latest work The Dead Sea Poems (Faber £6.99).
I Christmas ﬂight Wed 15. 7pm. James Thin. 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. In the Yuletide mood already. Thin's invites you to a night of whisky tastings. author readings. antique experts and competitions — and of course a book- buying spree.
I Adrian Mitchell and Pete Moser Thurs 16. 7.30pm. Supper Room. Assembly
Rooms. 54 George Street. 220 4349.
Poems and pints with Mitchell. one of the best-known 60$ poets still around to tell the tale. Expect a wild patchwork of poems and songs covering the gamut of feelings from personal to the political. Part of Assembly Alive!