The Stuff of the Earth | William Bonar
William Bonar was born in Greenock in 1953 and grew up in Port Glasgow. He graduated from Edinburgh University with an MA in English Language and Literature in 1981 and from Glasgow University in 2008 with an MLitt (Distinction) in Creative Writing. He spent the last 30 years of his working life in education, first as a teacher of English and then as an educational psychologist. His poems have been published in literary magazines, websites, anthologies and newspapers. His pamphlet, Offering (Red Squirrel Press, 2015), won the James Kirkton Memorial Prize and he was short-listed for a Creative Scotland Writers’ Award in 2015. He lives some of the time with his partner, the author Lynnda Wardle, in Stirlingshire, and the rest in his flat in Knightswood in Glasgow, a (very long) stone’s throw from Edwin Morgan’s old flat.
‘It’s always a pleasure and a relief to come across a book of poetry written with skill and insight and sensitivity. This is William Bonar’s welcome first collection and it’s been built to last. Whether in his breathtaking descriptions, panoramic shifts of focus, or that wonderful, extended elegy for his father the boatbuilder, we are aware he is guiding us through a moving social, physical and cultural geography of Scotland and beyond. Wherever we look there is a clear-eyed intelligence at work, bringing past and present to our attention, enriching our lives.’
‘The Stuff of the Earth is a must-read of a collection. The combination of insight into the meaning of our lives...and our passing from this earth, along with raw, visceral memory of childhood experience...is enormously powerful. It’s achingly sure in opening up the inevitable seams of pain we encounter in life, but also accepting of human frailties. This is a collection to cherish, in
its wonderfully calm, affectionate look at the carousel of life, the futility of making sense of any of it, of bringing any kind of order....and yet, as his poem says, the hail clanjamfrie’s singin.’
‘There is no mistaking the work of William Bonar. Though it remains rooted very much in the West Coast of Scotland it is never anchored there for very long. These poems often with short titles, sparse punctuation and precious spaces are a distillation of the hard won—often stripped back to some ravaged core. For they come from the physical and lived. In the close examination and understanding of the frailty of the human condition they are also a celebration of the here and now, slowly building to his final long poem ‘The Stuff of Life’ which powerfully portrays the lives of those who worked in the shipyards and the hurt felt on their decline.’
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