Quote of the Day
In Britain the most adventurous list in poetry and in fiction is that being printed according to the ideals of a small press by Carcanet, well away from London. It does look as if the old alliance between the words of the writer and the artistry of making fine books has a vital future.
Subscribe to our mailing list
Review of William Letford - Emma Cowing, The Scotland on Sunday, 18 December 2011
Until now, you had to climb a roof to read his poems. But William Letford - a roofer who writes poetry onto the buildings he works on - has landed a publishing deal that will see his words appear on the page.Previous review of William Letford... Next review of William Letford...
Letford, from Stirling, has secured a deal with Carcanet Press for his first volume of poetry, Bevel, which was inspired by his work as a roofer in town.
He told Scotland on Sunday: "I was already writing poems when I started working as a roofer with the family firm. I decided to write poems on to the roofs that I was working on, often on to the joists or under the slates.
"When someone comes across it they might not understand it or appreciate it, but I love the idea that 100 years from now someone might discover what I've written."
Letford's work was featured at the Edinburgh Book Festival last year. He has also conducted poetry readings in unusual places, such as outside a tradesmen's burger van and on the ScotRail Glasgow to Stirling train. His work often references the physical work he does, with one poem It's About The Labour, repeatedly using the words 'hammers nails' to evoke the atmosphere of working on a roof.
"I enjoy reading one to one or to a small group of people", he said. "It's great, that feeling of transmitting your work to someone else in the hope that they'll enjoy it.
The publishing deal will see his poems beings brought together on the page for the first time.
Michael Schmidt, managing and editorial director of Carcanet Press, said that Letford was a unique talent.
"Billy first stood out to me as a remarkable performer of his work, speaking it from memory and keeping his eye on the audience, not the page", he said.
Caitrin Armstrong, writer development manager at Scottish Book Trust, which awarded Letford a Scottish Book Trust Award in 2008, and: "Billy is one of the most original and striking voices in modern Scottish writing and we are over the moon that his poetry has been recognised".
Letford, 34, started writing poetry as a boy. When he was 12 he sent some of his poems to poet Roger McGough, who encouraged him to keep writing.
In his twenties, however, he decided to join the family roofing business and has worked in the trade ever since, often finding inspiration for his poetry through his work.
In 2009 Letford was awarded an Edwin Morgan travel bursary which allowed him to travel to Italy to help restore the medieval village of Baiado, near San Remo, and search for further poetic inspiration.
Letford's volume will be published in September 2012.
In January he will read some of his poems at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London as part of the arts centre's Burns Night celebrations.
The Carcanet Blog Let's Gimbal! read more Carcanet New Poetry Showcase: The Audience Writes Back read more John Gallas: A Little Andaluciad read more Carcanet Poetry Showcase: 30th April read more The Manchester Writing Competition 2013 read more Six Sixty-Six: Infinity by Gabriel Josipovici read more
We thank the Arts Council England for their support and assistance in this interactive Project.
This website ©2000-2013 Carcanet Press Ltd