Richard Price is not the most famous of Scottish poets; but he is without doubt one of the most interesting and creative, with a record of lyrical brilliance, bold experimentation, and successful collaboration with other artists stretching back to the 1990s and beyond. Born in 1966, Price grew up in Renfrewshire, and began to write poetry in his early teens – partly, he feels, because he was too shy to communicate in other ways, and wanted to capture on paper some of the impact of the songs and lyrics that meant so much to him, from Sam Cook to Bob Dylan.
His first thought on leaving school was to become a journalist, and he trained at Napier in Edinburgh; but soon realised that a career in librarianship might suit his personality better, while still fulfilling his passion for the sharing of information and knowledge. He graduated from Strathclyde University in the late 1980s, and moved south to take up a job at the British Library in London, where he has worked ever since; today, he is Head of Contemporary British Collections, a role which he describes as a “dream job”, and one that often inspires his own creative work. Since the early 1990s, he has published ten major collections of poems, along with short stories, non-fiction books, and translations. He has often collaborated on joint projects with visual artists, and sustains his interest in music through studio work, as lyricist and vocalist, with his three-person band The Loss Adjusters, successors to previous band Mirabeau.
In this Scotsman Session, Price reads a poem called Kiviuq On The Open Sea, from his new poetry collection The Owner Of The Sea, published this month. Subtitled Three Inuit Stories Retold, the book uses old Inuit legends to explore some fierce contemporary dilemmas, with what Price calls frequent “glances to camera”, a self-conscious relationship with the contemporary gaze. He recorded this Session at Slapton Sands in Dorset, with the waters of the English Channel lapping the bank of shingle behind him; the kind of grey and sunless open seascape that perfectly matches this episode from the story of the Inuit hero Kiviuq, as he travels alone in his kayak, in search of new landing places.
The Owner Of The Sea is published by Carcanet, £12.99
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