Wednesday 16 March is a red-letter day for lovers of masterful writing – whether fiction or non-fiction, travel writing or poetry. For this is when acclaimed writer Andrew Greig will visit the University of Stirling to talk about his work and what inspires it.
His talk – the first in a series by visiting writers – will be given in Room A96 of the Pathfoot Building on campus, beginning at 4pm. Entry is free, the event is open to the public and no pre-booking is required. The visiting writers series is hosted by the Department of English Studies at the University’s School of Arts and Humanities.
Andrew is the author of six acclaimed books of poetry, two Himalayan mountaineering expedition books, and five novels including That Summer, When They Lay Bare, In Another Light (Scottish Book of the Year) and Romanno Bridge. His non-fiction book, Preferred Lies, is regarded as a contemporary classic.
His latest work At the Loch of the Green Corrie was published last year to huge critical acclaim. A moving account of a fishing trip to honour a wish made by the celebrated poet Norman McCaig* before his death, the book becomes a meditation on life, nature and friendship, as well as a literary biography and a celebration of the beauty of the Highlands of Scotland.
More recently, Andrew joined comedian Billy Connolly and musician and academic Ally Bain, in ‘Fishing for Poetry’, a BBC documentary which paid tribute to McCaig’s life and work.
Acknowledging that being Scottish is fundamental to who he is, Andrew also believes that: “…anywhere you carry in your heart is your country.” And though he lives with mostly in Edinburgh, it is the time he spends in Stromness, Orkney which makes him feel “…most valid and alive”. The hills, lochs and shorelines he haunts there provide a rich and varied background to much of his work.
He enjoys playing music – on a variety of instruments – almost as much as writing. It was his songwriting which led him to create poetry and his subsequent book-length narrative poem Men On Ice, which brought him to the attention of mountaineer Mal Duff. It was Andrew’s instinctively insightful writing that led Mal, who was organising the 1984 Muztagh Tower Expedition, to assume this writer was a fellow climber.
And so it was that the non-climber who was afraid of heights joined his first ever expedition and scaled the 24,000 foot high Tower in Pakistan’s Karakoram Range; surely a cautionary tale for other poets who write too well of things they have not actually experienced.
That expedition resulted in the book Summit Fever and led to two more expeditions; the first one to the Tibetan side of Everest and the second one to Lhotse Shar – an extremely dangerous mountain with a ratio of almost one death for every two summits. Inevitably these adventures resulted in another prose book Kingdoms of Experience.
Andrew has said: “I write to feel more truly alive, and hope that my readers might feel themselves the same. My belief is that loss is inevitable and renewal is possible.”
Speaking of the writer’s coming visit, Professor Kathleen Jamie, Chair of Creative Writing at the University’s Department of English Studies said: “It's a great pleasure to be able to welcome Andrew Greig to Stirling University - a local lad, who has travelled far.
“He is one of Scotland's most celebrated writers; a fine lyric poet, a master story-teller, and a lover of landscapes. Through his many publications, we trust Andrew Greig to map the secrets of the human heart, and to reveal our country - and our selves - to us. This will be an enriching event.”
Notes to editors:
Andrew Greig was born in Bannockburn in 1951 and grew up in Anstruther, Fife. He now lives with his wife in Orkney and South Queensferry.
Educated at the University of Edinburgh, he is a former Glasgow University Writing Fellow and Scottish Arts Council Scottish/Canadian Exchange Fellow.
His writings cover fiction and non-fiction, travel and poetry, with many of his books winning prestigious awards – such as the 2004 Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year Award for In Another Light – and one novel The Return of John McNab (1996) being filmed for the BBC.
At the Loch of the Green Corrie is available in paperback in March from Quercus Publishing.
During the 1970s, Norman McCaig spent 8 years as a Reader in Poetry at the University of Stirling.