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Sundial Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year

Finalists | Shortlist | Judges | Authors


Details of the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards 2009 are now available.

Edwin Morgan’s Book of Lives wins Sundial Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award

L –R: Category finalists Jane McKie and Ali Smith, Borders Book Festival Director Alistair Moffat, and Edwin Morgan and Rory Bremner at Melrose Abbey

Edwin Morgan has won the £25,000 Sundial Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award for his latest collection of poetry, A Book of Lives.

The winner was announced at the annual Sundial Scottish Arts Council Book Awards ceremony which this year was held at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose, and hosted by writer and comedian Rory Bremner in the major highlight of the Festival weekend.

A Book of Lives is a triumphant achievement in one of the most illustrious and influential literary careers in the history of Scottish literature.  Professor Morgan was appointed Scotland’s first ‘Makar’ or National Poet in 2004, and his prodigious oeuvre, which includes literary criticism, translation, essays, and drama as well as poetry, now spans over fifty years of work. 

cover of a Book of Lives

A Book of Lives marks a powerful distillation of the remarkably diverse range of themes, styles, and forms that characterise Morgan’s endlessly inventive poetic world.  Confronting global issues such as the ‘war on terror’ and major historical events closer to home, such as Bannockburn or the opening of the Scottish Parliament, this is also a collection of remarkable personal candour and intimacy; at its heart is a major sequence, ‘Love and a Life’, exploring the eternal dynamic between life and art.

Describing the book Edwin Morgan stated:

Edwin Morgan

'I believe there are no barriers in subject matter or style in poetry. And you can only persuade people of that if you're actually writing it....If it's any good, the collection must be more than just a book of lives. The title is meant to set you off thinking, off on a course of ideas.'

The difficult job of selecting the winner from the shortlist of four books was down to a distinguished judging panel comprising writer and broadcaster Janice Galloway; Professor of Literature, literary critic and poet Rory Watson; Lilias Fraser, Reader Development Officer at the Scottish Poetry Library; and Dr Gavin Wallace, Scottish Arts Council Head of Literature, who chaired the panel in a non-voting capacity.

Commenting on the winning book, the judges said:

‘A Book of Lives is a prodigious creative achievement by any standards from a poet who is, arguably, not just Scotland’s greatest living poet, but one of the greatest in English-language poetry world-wide. Morgan’s indomitable fascinations with energy, with transformation, with that which is beyond imagination itself, are superabundant here in a breathtaking variegation of form, style and subject: equally powerfully, this is a book of deeply moving – and often startling – personal candour and directness.  To put it simply - A Book of Lives is a book for living.’

On presenting the award William Gray Muir, Director of Sundial Properties, the sponsor of the awards said -

‘It’s terrific to see that such an important and long standing figure in Scottish poetry is still at the top of his game, and it’s fantastic to be able to recognise him at this stage in such a successful career.’

The Award ceremony included readings and interviews with the four category winners -Ali Smith (Fiction), Robert MacFarlane (Non–Fiction), Jane McKee (First Book) and Edwin Morgan (Poetry) – who each received prizes of £5000, along with announcing Morgan as the overall winner – receiving an additional £20,000 – making these awards Scotland’s richest book awards and the fourth largest in the UK. 

Borders Book Festival Director Alistair Moffat also commented

‘It's a wonderful fillip for the Borders Book Festival to host the awards, and we plan to help everyone celebrate in style. For that's what this is, a celebration of superb Scottish writing. Congratulations to all the short list and Edwin Morgan.’

Culture Minister Linda Fabiani who attended the awards ceremony said:

“Edwin Morgan yet again shows what a joy and privilege it is to have him as our National Poet.  I am thrilled that his latest work has been honoured as the Sundial Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year.  I congratulate all the winners across the various categories, showing the excellence and diversity that is synonymous with contemporary Scottish literature.

*Book Awards 2008 shortlist
*Book Awards 2008 Judges
*Book Awards 2008 Authors
*Book Awards 2008 finalists
* Book Awards will be hosted by Rory Bremner
* Book Awards move to the Borders
* Edwin Morgan’s Book of Lives wins Sundial Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award
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