Big Bang's Star Poets

1 March 2021

“A caald winter’s nicht,
Starn heich in the lift”
– Josie Neill

Stars and poets are indelibly linked. From Shakespeare to Maya Angelou, artists and writers have been contemplating the infinite, their mortality and their love lives reflected in starlight or set against the great perspective of the universe. 

To Keats and Brontë, the stars brought a permanence and brightness at variance to their own shifting moods. To more modern writers, to be illuminated by the dead light of stars has added an extra welcome layer of gloom to proceedings. 

See them as will-o'-the-wisp, fairy lights or steps to God, the stars continue to excite the imagination and fuel the pen. In Galloway, we are lucky to have the universe at our beck and call: ruggedness of geography and depopulation are the ideal ingredients for a ringside seat. As winter turns towards spring, as disease, we hope, loosens its grip on our land, what better time to find hope and inspiration in the stars?

Here are eight poets from Dumfries & Galloway to bookend Big Bang, the dark skies festival. Five women, three men, a range of ages too, including two teenagers, a fantastic sign that poetry is alive and thriving in this, one of Scotland’s great literary heartlands. 

Star Poets will be shared each day on this blog and through our social media channels, starting 1 March. Find them using the #StarPoets hashtag.

Hugh McMillan, the curator of Star Poets, is a poet living in Penpont and a Scottish Poetry Library ‘Champion’. The paperback edition of McMillan’s Galloway, a book first commissioned by the Wigtown Book Festival, is due to be published by Luath Press in March and Hugh is also working on his latest collection, Haphazardly in a Starless Sky.