leamington books

by Peter Burnett

Thoughts on Duncan Glen by John Herdman

John Herdman

John Herdman on poet, publisher and editor Duncan Glen. 

Duncan Glen became known to the wider literary world through his first full-length book, Hugh MacDiarmid and the Scottish Renaissance. He published many verse collections, from Kythings and other poems (1969), In Appearances (1971) and Realities Poems (1980) to Selected Poems 1965–1990 (1991), Selected New Poems 1987–1996 (1998) and Collected Poems 1965–2005 (2006).

His Autobiography of a Poet appeared with Ramsay Head Press in 1986. In Scotland perhaps Duncan is best known as editor of Akros magazine which ran to fifty one editions, starting in August 1965 and which worked to promote Scottish poets and artists.

John Herdman had a crucial working relationship with Duncan Glen, I discovered however.  John wrote to us:


"I owe an immense debt to Duncan Glen and Akros and to Akros Publications.  The journal was started by Duncan (by profession a teacher of graphic design) in, I think, 1965, it was eclectic and fair-minded and it championed any good Scottish writing but had a particular emphasis on poetry in Scots that was never exclusive or near to that.  I started writing for the journal in 1970 and was a regular contributor.  My fiction (my first two short novels) was virtually all the fiction that Akros Publications ever published, and Duncan offered me a lifeline when I was rejected by every available publisher, Scottish and English.  He also succeeded in selling out the editions of both novels, mainly by mail order.  Why my later publishers were unable to capitalise on the excellent critical responses my books received I cannot say.  Polygon made a fair stab at it but the impact was not a lasting one.  About what happened after that I had better say nothing."



Photograph of John Herdman by @leamingtonbooks