Glen, Duncan (Munro)
GLEN, Duncan (Munro)
Pseudonym: Ronald Eadie Munro. Nationality: British. Born: Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, 11 January 1933. Education: West Coats School, Cambuslang, 1938–46; Rutherglen Academy, 1946–49; Heriot-Watt College, Edinburgh, 1950–53; Edinburgh College of Art, 1953–56. Military Service: Royal Air Force, 1956–58. Family: Married Margaret Eadie in 1957; one son and one daughter. Career: Typographic designer, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1958–60; lecturer in typographic design, Watford College of Technology, 1960–63; editor, Robert Gibson and Sons Ltd., publishers, Glasgow, 1963–65; lecturer in graphic design, Preston Polytechnic, Lancashire, 1965–78; professor of visual communications, 1978–86, and since 1986 emeritus professor, Nottingham Trent University. Owner, Akros Publications, and editor, Akros, Preston, later Nottingham, 1965–83; editor, Knowe, 1971, and Graphic Lines, 1975–78, both Preston, and Aynd, Nottingham, 1983–86. Since 1988 editor, SPLA (Scottish Poetry Library Newsletter), Edinburgh. Fellow, Chartered Society of Designers. Address: 25 Johns Road, Radcliffe-on-Trent, Nottingham, England.
Stanes: A Twalsome of Poems (as Ronald Eadie Munro). Kinglassie, Fife, Duncan Glen, 1966.
Idols: When Alexander Our King Was Dead. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1967.
Kythings and Other Poems (as Ronald Eadie Munro). Thurso, Caithness Books, 1969.
Sunny Summer Sunday Afternoon in the Park? Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1969.
Unnerneath the Bed. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1970.
In Appearances. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1971.
Clydesdale: A Sequence o Poems. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1971.
Feres. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1971.
A Journey Past: A Sequence o Poems. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1972.
A Cled Score. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1974.
Mr. and Mrs. J.L. Stoddart at Home. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1975.
Buits and Wellies; or, Sui Generis. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1975.
Follow! Follow! Follow! and Other Poems. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1976.
Spoiled for Choice. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1976.
Weddercock. Privately printed, 1976.
Gaitherings: Poems in Scots. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1977.
Traivellin Man. Preston, Lancashire, Harris Press, 1977.
In Place of Wark; or, Man of Art. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1977.
Of Philosophers and Tinks. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1977.
The Inextinguishable. Preston, Lancashire, Harris Press, 1977.
My Preston. Preston, Lancashire, Herbert, 1977.
Ten Sangs. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1978.
Ither Sangs. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1978.
Ten Bird Sangs. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1978.
Ten Sangs of Luve. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1978.
Poet at Wark. Nottingham, Bonington Press, 1979.
Realities Poems. Nottingham, Akros, 1980.
On Midsummer Evenin Merriest of Nichts? Nottingham, Akros, 1981.
Facts Are Chiels. Privately printed, 1983.
The State of Scotland. Nottingham, Duncan Glen, 1983.
Portraits. Nottingham, Trent Polytechnic, 1983.
The Stones of Time. Nottingham, Duncan Glen, 1984.
Situations. Nottingham, Trent Polytechnic, 1984.
In the Small Hours: Or, To Be About to Be. Nottingham, Akros, 1984.
The Turn of the Earth. Nottingham, Akros, 1985.
Geeze!: A Sequence of Poems. Leeds, John Henderson, 1985.
Tales to Be Told. Edinburgh, Akros, 1987.
Out to the Calf of Man, September 1989: A Poem and Etchings. Edinburgh, Akros, 1990.
A Journey Into Scotland: Poems. Edinburgh, Akros, 1991.
Selected Poems 1965–1990. Edinburgh, Akros, 1991.
Echoes. Frae Classical and Italian Poetry. Edinburgh, Akros, 1992.
Seventeen Poems. Kirkcaldy, Scotland, Akros, 1997.
Selected New Poems: Nineteen-Eighty-Seven to Nineteen-Ninety-Six. Kirkcaldy, Scotland, Akros, 1998.
Hugh MacDiarmid and the Scottish Renaissance. Edinburgh, Chambers, 1964.
The Literary Mask of Hugh MacDiarmid. Glasgow, Drumalban Press, 1964.
Scottish Poetry Now. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1966.
An Afternoon with Hugh MacDiarmid. Privately printed, 1969.
A Small Press and Hugh MacDiarmid: With a Checklist of Akros Publications 1962–1970. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1970.
The MacDiarmids: A Conversation Between Hugh MacDiarmid and Duncan Glen with Valda Crieve and Arthur Thompson. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1970.
The Individual and the Twentieth-Century Scottish Literary Tradition. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1971.
A Bibliography of Scottish Poets from Stevenson to 1974. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1974.
Preston's New Buildings, with John Brook. Preston, Lancashire, Harris Press, 1975.
Five Literati. Preston, Lancashire, Harris Press, 1976.
Forward from Hugh MacDiarmid; or, Mostly Out of Scotland, Being Fifteen Years of Duncan Glen/Akros Publications, with a Check-List of Publications August 1962-August 1977. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1977.
Hugh MacDiarmid: An Essay for 11th August 1977. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1977.
The Autobiography of a Poet. Edinburgh, Ramsay Head Press, 1986.
Makars' Walk: Three Literary Walks in the Old Town of Edinburgh, with an Anthology of Poetry. Edinburgh, Scottish Poetry Library Association, 1990.
The Poetry of the Scots. An Introduction and Bibliographical Guide to Poetry in Gaelic, Scots, Latin and English. Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 1991.
Hugh MacDiarmid: Out of Langholm and Into the World. Edinburgh, Akros, 1992.
A Nation in a Parish: A New Historical Prospect of Scotland from the Parish of Cambuslang. Edinburgh, Akros, 1995.
Splendid Lanarkshire: Past and Present: A Rediscovery and Anthology of Prose & Verse. Kirkcaldy, Scotland, Akros, 1997.
Hugh MacDiarmid & Duncan Glen: A Prospect from Brownsbank: Poems, Biographical Notes and a Bibliography. Kirkcaldy, Scotland, Akros, 1998.
Illustrious Fife: Literary, Historical & Architectural Pathways & Walks. Kirkcaldy, Scotland, Akros, 1998.
A New History of Cambuslang. Kirkcaldy, Scotland, Akros, 1998.
Editor, Poems Addressed to Hugh MacDiarmid and Presented to Him on His Seventy-Fifth Birthday. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1967.
Editor, Selected Essays of Hugh MacDiarmid. London, Cape, 1969; Berkeley, University of California Press, 1970.
Editor, The Akros Anthology of Scottish Poetry 1965–1970. Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1970.
Editor, Whither Scotland? A Prejudiced Look at the Future of a Nation. London,, 1971.
Editor, Hugh MacDiarmid: A Critical Survey. Edinburgh, Scottish Academic Press, and New York, Barnes and Noble, 1972.
Editor, with Nat Scammacca, La Nuova Poesia Scozzese. Palermo, Celebes, 1976.
Editor, Preston Polytechnic Poets. Preston, Lancashire, Harris Press, 1977.
Editor, Graphic Designers as Poets. Preston, Lancashire, Harris Press, 1977.
Editor, Typoems. Preston, Lancashire, Harris Press, 1977.
Editor, Akros Verse 1965–1982. Nottingham, Akros, 1982.
Editor, with Peter France, European Poetry in Scotland: An Anthology of Translations. Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 1989.
Editor, Twenty of the Best: A Galliard Anthology of Contemporary Scottish Poetry. Edinburgh, Galliard, 1990.
Editor, A Keepsake Anthology of Anonymous Scottish Verse. Kirkcaldy, Scotland, Akros, 1996.
Editor, Seasons of Delight: An Anthology of Poems on Gardens, Flowers, Greenwoods & the Sea. Kirkcaldy, Scotland, Akros, 1998.
Editor, Scottish Literature: A New History from 1299 to 1999. Kirkcaldy, Scotland, Akros, 1999.
Editor, Selected Scottish and Other Essays. Kirkcaldy, Scotland, Akros, 1999.
Editor, 'This Is No Can of Beans': A Prospect from the Window of a Small-Press Publisher. Kirkcaldy, Scotland, Akros, 1999.*
Bibliography: A Duncan Glen Bibliography, privately printed, 1980.
Manuscript Collections: National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh; Edinburgh University Library.
Critical Studies: By Paul Duncan, in Sou' Wester (Carbondale, Illinois), summer 1970; Sam Adams, in Anglo-Welsh Review (Pembroke Dock, Wales), autumn 1970; John C. Weston, in Akros (Preston, Lancashire), April 1971; Anne Cluysenaar, in Stand (Newcastle upon Tyne), 12(4), 1971; "Meaning and Self" by Walter Perrie, in Chapman (Hamilton, Lanarkshire), spring 1972; "The Progress of Scots" by John Herdman, in Akros (Preston, Lancashire), December 1972; Two Younger Poets: Duncan Glen and Donald Campbell: A Study of Their Scots Poetry by Leonard Mason, Preston, Lancashire, Akros, 1976; Our Duncan, Who Art in Trent: A Festschrift for Duncan Glen edited by Philip Pacey, Preston, Lancashire, Harris Press, 1978; The Dialect Muse by Ken Edward Smith, Wetherby, Ruined Cottage, 1979; George Bruce, in Lines Review (Edinburgh), 74, September 1980, and in Studies in Scottish Literature (South Carolina), 22, 1988; W.N. Herbert, in Edinburgh Review, 77, 1987; by W.R. Aitken in Lines Review (Edinburgh), 119, 1991.* * *
Duncan Glen belongs to that important community of Scottish writers who have developed a style in Scots (or Lallans-the fashionable term) on a prose base. One feels that Glen, or his people, might speak with the same calculated understatement or with the not unkindly irony of his poetry. His idiom allows him to sketch the picture of his dead father in his poem "My Faither" with a sense of truth, respect, and manliness. The poem begins,
Staunin noo aside his bress-haunled coffin
I mind him fine aside the black shinin range
In his grey strippit troosers, galluses and nae collar
For the flannel shirt. My faither.
(Standing now beside his brass handled coffin
I remember him well beside the black shining range
In his grey striped trousers, braces and no collar
For the flannel shirt. My father.)
This honest, modest achievement is characteristic of a deal of the rather better writing in Scots, but Glen goes beyond this in his finer poems. In the last verse of "My Faither" the writer looks down on the body, "laid oot in the best / Black suitin …" This father ("My father")—he uses the English spelling—he does not know. The solid, known person becomes dramatically unknowable.
The domestic imagery in Scots is Glen's point of beginning. His poem "Progress" begins from naive statement, bouncing along like a nursery rhyme, but there is a remorseless logic in it. It proceeds thus: "Is not nature wonderful / We cam oot heid first-get a slap / and oor mither toungue." By the end one is aware that Glen is applying a kind of Socratic dialogue to the argument. The bright tone darkens. He takes this development further in "Bacchae in Suburbia." This work is written in a homely Scots ("You are feart son?"), and one hears, as it were, behind the words the knock on the door that might mean death or torture, as it has for many in Europe in our time.
Despite the success of the concentrated moments in Glen's short poems the idiom of colloquial Scots/English speech, which comes naturally from his pen, lends itself more readily to his reflective longer poems. These have frequently suffered from diffuseness and flatness of tone, but in 1980 the publication of Realities Poems, a book-length sequence, marked a new achievement. Much of the subject matter is, characteristically, domestic-autobiographical, but the enjoyment of family life—and how freshly and affectionately done are all these passages—is set within a wider framework, partly philosophical and partly drawn from aspects of existence today seen as a threat to the caring family and to the aspirations that stem from the confidence such living breeds. Glen achieves this presentation in poetic terms by setting one type of experience against the other. On the one hand he tells of the happiness of, when young, chasing with Margaret, now his wife:
My breath comin quick as yours,
we race doun to the lochside house
and warmth by the rug by the fire
—and wunnerin what Mrs MacDonald thocht,
as she served us our tea.
Against this human warmth is life in "The House at Half-Wey Point," "the new seat / of civilisation," where the proprietors of the hotel control those who would climb to the mountaintop by experiment and daring:
The routes hae built-in plastic railweys
and guides in uniform like railwey
porters walk the paths. There are
cassettes to be hired
gien a commentary on the set weys.
In such passages through particular experiences, couched in Glen's modest, skeptical tongue, large issues are implicit. No writer in Scots has taken this way to these issues. Consequently, it may be claimed that in doing this Glen has extended a Scots literary sensibility.
"A Divine Comedy," from Selected New Poems, is set on a coach tour in Italy. The speaker is enthralled by a view of Tuscany:
And a woman whispers to naebody in particular,
'lo sono Scotto,
'lo sono Scotto.'
'Lo sono Scotto.'
The Scottish resonance heard in the voice is heard in all of Glen's poetry, and this is the basis of his achievement.