About Ron Butlin

RON BUTLIN is a former Edinburgh Makar / Poet Laureate (2008-14). He has published ten volumes of poetry, including verse for children. His work has won many prizes and been translated into over a dozen languages. His poetry collection, The Magicians of Edinburgh, is now in its sixth printing. His poem, ‘The Electric City of Heck’, (from his most recent collection, The Magicians of Scotland, Polygon 2015), was the central inspiration for the much-acclaimed Hidden Door Festival 2016, which included a performance of the poem involving a thirty-piece jazz orchestra.

Butlin was born in Edinburgh and brought up in Hightae, in the Scottish Borders, near Dumfries.  At 16 years old, he hitchhiked to London, finding work as a barnacle scraper on Thames barges, computer operator and city messenger, valet-footman and song lyricist with an obscure pop-group. Returning to Edinburgh he sat for hours as a male model for students of Edinburgh College of Art, ‘leaving,’ he says, his imagination to remain, ‘completely free.’ Many of his early poems were written in this time; he later drifted around and wrote in Paris, Barcelona, the Far East and Australia before returning to Edinburgh.

This traversing of lands and careers underlines the wry, piercing, vision of contemporary life offered in his poetry; a vision that has inspired writers from Irvine Welsh to Alan Warner. Butlin is a critically acclaimed novelist in his own right: his most recent book, Ghost Moon (Salt Publishing) was nominated for the 2016 International Dublin Impac Literary award. BillionairesBanquet, (2017), subtitled 'An Immorality Tale for the 21st Century', takes a satirical look at Britain from the 80s onwards, is published by Salt. His work for young adults includes Steve & FranDan Take on the World (BC Books) and Troll Day! is a book of verse for children.

The poems offered in the archive, including Electric City of Heck, are ‘our guides into a trackless future,’ away from disposable cities filled with disposable lives. They bear witness through their juxtapositions of history and the present, their critique of human labouring and dreams, to a time when ‘our line of sight’ might clear, and we can perhaps, bring into being a better world.

Butlin lives in Edinburgh with his wife, the writer Regi Claire, and their dog.

He recorded at The Tun in Edinburgh on November 8th 2016 with Paul Sumerling as producer.

Without a Backward Glance, Barzan, 2005

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The Magicians of Scotland, Polygon, 2015

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The Magicians of Edinburgh, Polygon, 2012

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Prizes

Scottish Arts Council Book Award 1985 Awarded for, 'Ragtime in Unfamiliar Bars'

Scottish Arts Council Book Award 1983 Awarded for, 'The Tilting Room: stories'

Scottish Arts Council Book Award 1982 Awarded for 'The Exquisite Instrument'

Prix Miles Pages 2004 Awarded for, 'The Sound of My Voice'

Prix Lucioles 2005 Awarded for, 'The Sound of My Voice'

Recordings

Ron Butlin Downloads

1A History of the Glass Kingdom

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2A Recipe for Whisky

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3All That We Have

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4Coming of Age

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5Darien II

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6David Hume Takes a Last Walk on Arthurs Seat

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7Disposable Buildings Are Made for Disposable Lives

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8EH1 2AB

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9Elegy

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10Frederic Chopin Tweets from the Edinburgh Hogmanay Party

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11Histories of Desire

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12Inheritance

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13James Hutton Learns to Read The Hieroglyphics

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14Kickstarting History

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15Mozart

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16My Grandfather Dreams Twice of Flanders

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17Near Linton Burnfoot

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18Nice Has Become a Suburb of Edinburgh

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19Our City Listens to Itself

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20Pairty Piece

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21Prayer

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22Rehearsals for the End of Time

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23Remembering a Good Friend

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24Scottish Mouse and Scottish Cat

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25The Circle Dante Wasn't Shown

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26The Electric City of Heck

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27The Kinder Artist

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28The Magicians of Edinburgh

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29The Other Edinburgh

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30The Roman Invasion of Scotland

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31This Evening

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32Tony Blairs Butterfly Effect

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