STUART A. PATERSON writes in English & his native Scots. He’s a past recipient of an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors and founder/editor of Spectrum poetry & prose review from 1989-97. His first full collection, ‘Saving Graces’ was published in 1997 before he moved to England to live and work for 14 years in social care. Returning to live in Galloway in 2012, he was awarded a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship from the Scottish Book Trust in 2014, during which time he collated and finished writing ‘Border Lines’, a 36-page collection of Galloway-themed poems published by Indigo Dreams in 2015. He’s currently the Scots Language Centre’s Virtual Poet-in-Residence. 2016 will see the publication of his first collection in Scots by Tapsalteerie Press, as well as a second full collection. Read more at



At Crianlarich where the great winds roared,
hyphens of railway line flow to meet
between frowns of dark mountain, converge
tremulously for a timetabled heartbeat.

Colliding briefly like huge angry stags
in coupling then hurtling away south or north,
dark carriages filled to the brim with us
rest uneasily in temporary berth.

A quick fag on the platform, a sallow glance
towards fog-boxed peaks & diminishing glens
where the wind cries Morag and all our
turning points come to lost and boggy ends.



Maps lie.
We should be driving through north Wales
but find we’re in the middle of a village
named High Dudgeon with a language all its
own. You speak it well and reel off words
with the aplomb of natives,
nowty, mithering, mizzog, nesh,
like Welsh without the coronary
sound effects. I want to be in
Blaenau Ffestiniog or Llandrinod Wells,
somewhere guttural with little dolls
in windows, overpowering mountains
& the possibility of bars that never close.
Instead I’m in an argument that will find
itself a poem with its predatory nose
in seven years. Mesmeric yells of lapwings
wheeling shorebound through the darkening valley air
will have to wait, as will rock-pockmarked
stubble of hillside and the wild conglomerate
gathering of the stars. I’ve had enough.
You wanted me to write a poem of us
& this is it, no more, so, tough.



Today I thought I ought to write a poem
about how borders heave with refugees,
weave metaphors like platted grass,
give voice to untranslated pleas.
Last week it should’ve been
a poignant tribute to the lives lost
in a migrants’ boat which sank
off Sicily, that earthquake
in Tibet, another suicidal
desert market square attack.

I think those poems, type them out
in brain fluid, print them off in breaths
reserved for sympathy which does no good.
On Portling beach the morning tide
has left a memory of person,
a tragi-comic skeleton perched
on the skerries, wistfully looking out
to England, wide-eyed, open-mouthed
as if warning everybody in the south
of river spates, lost balance, last
ones for the road, red-lettered bills,
missed calls, inactions, life-defining sanctions,
border crossings that will never pass
& of ultimately being late.

The week is crammed with awful news.
At least, from here, there are stunning views.


If you wish to read the poems in page view, the following link will take you to a PDF – Stuart A Paterson Poems

All works published by the Glasgow Review of Books are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and the journal reserves the right to be named as place of first publication in any citation. Copyright remains with the poet.

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The Glasgow Review of Books (ISSN 2053-0560) is an online journal which publishes critical reviews, essays and interviews as well as writing on translation. We accept work in any of the languages of Scotland – English, Gàidhlig and Scots.

We aim to be an accessible, non-partisan community platform for writers from Glasgow and elsewhere. We are interested in many different kinds of writing, though we tend to lean towards more marginal, peripheral or neglected writers and their work. 

Though, our main focus is to fill the gap for careful, considered critical writing, we also publish original creative work, mostly short fiction, poetry and hybrid/visual forms. 

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