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Andy Murray: 'Some of my work sounds more dramatic in Scots than in English'

A chat with Andy Murray about his poetry collection, The Magician’s House (Drunk Muse Press, 2023)


How would you describe the collection in one sentence?

A lyrical look at history, heritage and myth and flights of fancy.


How long did the book take to write?

Several months.


How did you structure the collection?


It structured itself really. The poems are in no particular order


How did the design for the cover come about?

The front design, an image of Frederick of unknown origin, jumped out at my editor, poet Hugh McMillan,  and me over coffee.

How did you choose a publisher for the collection, and how much editorial input did they have with the book?

I won the Fresh Voice award at the Wigtown Book Festival in 2022. Part of the prize was the mentorship of Hugh McMillan, well known Scottish poet. He edited the book, although he didn’t need to change a big deak. He and Neil Young run Drunk Muse Press, and were aware of my work


What has been the reaction to the book? Have there been any individual reactions that have surprised you?

Several fine poets have praised it. It has gone down very well.


Do you have a favourite poem from the book?

'The Magician’s House'.


Which poets inspire you?

Hugh McMillan, Norman McCaig, Iain Crichton Smith, Robib Robertson.


As an independent author myself, I’m always interested in how other people feel about the self-promotion involved in putting out a book and I wonder how you feel about this?

 There’s a tremendous amount of work involved.


Have you done any readings from the book or do you plan to do any? If so, which poems would you choose to read and why? Linked to this, are there any poems that you think are specifically ‘page’ poems?

Read at three events in Wigtown, Gatehouse of Fleet and Dumfries.


Can you remember the first poem you ever wrote?

No, I wrote half-heartedly until I retired in 2021.


Do you have a typical writing process?

Currently in the middle of writer’s sloth but usually every day.


Some of the poems are in English, some in Scots. Apart from the obvious difference in language, is there something that makes a poem typically Scottish for you? What motivates the decision to write in Scots rather than English, and vice versa?

I was brought up knowing Scots (which is an extremely descriptive language) and I’m aware that some of my work sounds more dramatic in Scots than in English, although the reverse can be the case.


Do you write between genres?


I don’t belong to any genre.


What are you working on now?

A Scottish travel book.

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