If the Mute Timber
Shearsman Books ()
I was born in Glasgow in , and studied English Literature (MA) and Creative Writing (MLitt) at the University of Glasgow. Later I received an MPhil in Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, and then a doctorate in English from Pembroke College, Cambridge in , for a thesis on the poetry of Geoffrey Hill.
I am currently an independent literary critic and am seeking publication of my first monograph Consummatum Est: Geoffrey Hill and the Ends of Poetry. The book argues that Hill’s poems are characteristically ‘end-directed’. It looks at Hill’s attempts to arrive at ends and endings in his poetry, both by reconciling antagonists in word and thought; and by attaining the perfect articulation of the poem. Some of my articles have been published in Literary Imagination, Essays in Criticism, and PN Review.
When I’m not writing about poetry, I’m often writing poetry. My first collection, If the Mute Timber, was published in May 2022 by Shearsman Books. In an earlier version it was shortlisted for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award in 2018. I was also shortlisted for the Scottish Book Trust’s New Writers Award in 2021. Recently, I received one-to-one mentorship from the poet John Glenday through the Clydebuilt scheme. My poems have appeared in magazines including PN Review (in 2013 and 2014), The Dark Horse, and Magma; and were anthologised in Carcanet’s New Poetries VI (2015).
The poems of my collection locate themselves in the obscure corners of communication, written and spoken, human and animal. They speak in and of the places where communication fails; and also where it leaps beyond itself into non-verbal utterance (whether musical or silent), and into prayer. Many of the poems also engage with the art and artists of the twentieth century, weighing up the inheritance they have left.
I live in Kirkintilloch with my wife and three daughters. I’m also an organist and Gregorian chant enthusiast.
Shearsman Books ()
Essays in Criticism, Vol. 72, Issue 1 (), pp. 77–93
Victorian Poetry, 59.4 (Winter )
Christianity & Literature (), pp. 113–122
Literary Imagination, Vol. 23, Issue 1 (), pp. 1–18
The Glass, No. 29 (Spring )
Book 2.0, Vol. 6, Nos 1 and 2 ()
PN Review, 205 ()
One poem, The Dark Horse (Winter & Spring )
Two poems, Edwin Morgan Poetry Award 2018 (pamphlet; )
Ten poems, New Poetries VI (Manchester: Carcanet, )
Two poems, RAUM, 2 ()
Two poems, PN Review, 218 ()
Two poems, Magma, 58 (Spring )
Two poems, PN Review, 214 ()
I can be contacted by email: