Aye Write 2015: The Midnight Letterbox: Selected Correspondence of Edwin Morgan review by Maggie Graham
John Coyle & James McGonigal: The Midnight Letterbox: Selected Correspondence of Edwin Morgan.
Chaired by Jim Carruth.
As the editors of Edwin Morgan’s correspondence, John Coyle and James McGonigal could have made this event a dry academic treatise, but it was much more. McGonigal who studied with Morgan at Glasgow University, is his biographer and literary executor and John Coyle, is a senior lecturer in English at Glasgow. Their fondness for the poet as a man and admiration of his work was the evident throughout, even though, it seems their task was a huge one. The correspondence that was eventually published is, we were told, around a third of one tenth of that available to them.
Between readings from the book, they spoke of Morgan’s work and life. So we learnt that Edwin Morgan’s mother had worked as a typewriter, the word typist not yet being in use, and how it was she who taught him to type. They also spoke about the struggles Morgan had to have his more Avant-garde poetry accepted by the establishment, including his friend Hugh MacDiarmid It was meeting and corresponding with poets Gail Turnbull and Ian Hamilton Findlay who wrote concrete poetry amongst other forms, that gave Morgan the creative cohorts and acceptance he had craved.
Readings ranged from a hilarious account of MacDairmid’s birthday party, to kindly generous replies to students and school children and tender love notes, written at a time when his homosexuality had to be kept secret. One of the most interesting, to me, was Morgan’s account of watching the moon landings on TV on 21st July 1969, which just happened to be the date of my sixteenth birthday. The sixties fascinated and energised Morgan. He referred to them as “an unforgettable gauge on the landscape” of the times.
This event gave the audience a real sense of Morgan as man, poet, friend, lover and teacher. This “one man Google” as John Coyle called him. It was entertaining and informative. A great start on day one of the festival.
Aye Write 2015-04-20 Maggie Graham
- Aye Write: The Writing of Janet Paisley with Dr Linda Jackson, University of Strathclyde
- Creative Conversations – Novelist Jacob Ross
- The Raft Glasgow Film Theatre
- Poetry at Inn Deep
- Aye Write: Louise Welsh Introduces… Temi Oh & Bridget Collins
- Aye Write: Helena Kennedy QC
- Aye Write: Stuart Cosgrove & Ken McNab
- Aye Write: Frank Quitely The Comics That Made Me
- Tracey Thorn at Aye Write
- Open Mic Tuesdays at Queen Margaret Union
- David Keenan and Chris McQueer in Conversation
- Lorna Goodison, Poet Laureate of Jamaica in Conversation with Louise Welsh
- Clochoderick Press Presents an Evening of Poetry and Spoken Word
- Women in Islam Exhibition
- Book Launch: Handle with Care and other stories by Ann MacLaren
- Tandem at The Tron
- OK Fest – Kilmacolm’s Festival of Sound
- Sisters and Seamonsters – Chiara Berardelli
- Creative Conversations: Mark Cousins
- St Mungo’s Mirrorball Mirrorball Poetry Showcase February, 2019