Andrew Greig

(b. 1951)

"As activities, writing poetry and climbing have few connections, apart from a heightened sense of being and awareness, of being fully engaged." Andrew Greig

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These poems come from a special recording for the Poetry Archive:

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Select bibliography

  • White Boats (with Catherine Lucy Czwerkawska) Garret Arts, 1973
  • Men On Ice Canongate, 1977
  • Surviving Passages Canongate, 1982
  • Summit Fever: The story of an Armchair Climber on the 1984 Mustagh Tower Expedition Hutchinson, 1985 (Canongate 1999)
  • Kingdoms of Experience: Everest, the Unclimbed Ridge Hutchinson, 1986 (Canongate 1999)
  • A Flame in Your Heart (with Kathleen Jamie)Bloodaxe, 1986
  • The Order of the Day Bloodaxe, 1990
  • Electric Brae: A Modern Romance Canongate, 1992
  • Western Swing: Adventures with the Heretical Buddha Bloodaxe, 1994
  • The Return of John McNab Headline, 1996
  • When They Lay Bare Faber and Faber, 1999
  • That Summer Faber and Faber, 2000
  • Into You Bloodaxe, 2001
  • Word Jig: New Fiction from Scotland(with Michel Faber and Ali Smith) Hanging Loose Press (USA), 2003
  • In Another Light Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004
  • This Life, This Life: Selected Poems 1970-2006 Bloodaxe, 2006
  • Preferred Lies Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006
  • Romanno Bridge Quercus, 2008
  • At the Loch of the Green Corrie Canongate 2010
  • Andrew Greig Reading from his Poems Poetry Archive, 2010
  • To Get Higher: The complete mountain poems Birlinn 2011
Andrew Greig's second collection Men on Ice in 1977 changed his life. He had been what he calls an "armchair climber", attracted by "the imagery and intensities" of climbing - however, mountaineer Mal Duff took Greig's metaphors literally and invited him on a real Himalayan expedition. Greig climbed on three such expeditions, which led him to write books on them, which took him on to writing novels. Distinctions and prizes in three mediums have established Andrew Greig as one of the leading Scottish writers of his generation

Yet Greig considers poetry to be a higher art form - second only to music (Greig is also a musician) - using the analogy: "Prose is draughts, poetry is chess. Chess in four dimensions…. the additional element of sound, of cadence and phrasing." He carries this attention to the music of language into his prose, which reviews have described as "lyrical" and "dazzling".

Born 1951 in Bannockburn, Greig grew up in Anstruther, Fife. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh and is a former Writing Fellow at both Glasgow and Edinburgh universities, and Scottish Arts Council Scottish/Canadian Exchange Fellow. His mentor was the great Scottish poet Norman MacCaig, to whom he wrote the tender elegy "Norman's Goodnight", which you can hear on this Archive recording. This poem perfectly illustrates Edwin Morgan's observations when he describes Greig as a poet "of sensitivity and resilience. He deals with high-risk situations - from mountaineering to love - and is particularly good at presenting the gamut of feelings involved in rites of passage: high endeavour, commitment, holding back, drift, release."

In her review of Andrew Greig's This Life, This Life: New and Selected Poems, Helen Mort notes how candid a poet he is. This book charts his childhood and adolescence, marriage break-up and later breakdown; it charts life-threatening illness and recovery, and throughout, the over-riding thrill of being alive in a world where the stakes are stimulatingly high: "Laughter rings across the ice. Why not?/ None of us will die today – that's immortality/you can draw on like a cigarette,/ harsh and sweet, the way we like it." (from 'Interlude on Mustagh Tower'.)

Andrew Greig's introductions to the occasions for the poems on this Archive recording are subtle and illuminating, and his voice is beautifully nuanced as he sings life into the words.

This recording recording was made at the Audio Workshop, London on September 9th 2010 and was produced by Anne Rosenfeld.


1972 Eric Gregory Award

1985 Boardman Tasker Memorial Prize (shortlist)Summit Fever: the Story of an Armchair Climber on the 1984 Mustagh Tower Expedition

1992 McVitie's Prize for Scottish Writer of the Year (shortlist) Electric Brae: A Modern Romance

2004 Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year Award In Another Light

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