james mcgonigal
Poet  •  Critic

Contact  James McGonigal

James McGonigal was born in 1947 in Dumfries near the border with England, moving at the age of ten to the contrasting landscape and language of Greater Glasgow. Growing up as one of nine brothers, he soon learned to shut up about poetry. His parents were Catholic, of Ulster and Aberdeenshire ancestry; both were teachers who had come from coal and shale-oil mining villages. Their impoverished backgrounds, rarely discussed, included a Catholic / Protestant and West / East divide, powerful shapers of Scottish cultural identity for much of the twentieth century.

Like most poets, McGonigal has balanced writing with employment and family life. He taught English in urban and rural secondary schools, lectured in colleges of education, and retired as Professor of English in Education in the University of Glasgow. There was some opportunity for interconnection between his creative and professional work, though less than might be supposed.

His work has been published mainly in small-press editions or ‘fugitive’ journals, often difficult to track down, or in specialised educational outlets. It seems worthwhile to make a selection of it here, with some comment from the author. McGonigal makes no great claims for his poetry, seems puzzled when it wins awards, but is delighted, of course, when editors and readers like it.

James McGonigal, Buchanan Street, Glasgow, 11 February 2015.