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Harvey Holton

Harvey Holton reading an extract from Finn

Three poems by
Harvey Holton


For Ilka Day



In Memory Of Harvey Holton

Born: 11th July 1949, in Galashiels, Scotland. Died: 15th of January, 2010, in North Fife, aged 60. The poet Harvey Holton has died, aged 60, at his home in north Fife, Scotland. Funeral, 26th of January, 2010.

Photograph Of Harvey Holton ( And a place where you can leave comments. )

Harvey Holton died peacefully, laying in bed, with his spectacles on, and his pen and wee notebook for his poems laying open by his side.

I knew Harvey for 30 years. He was my " brither ", not a relative, but the only brother I ever had. And no one could have had a better " brither " than Harvey Holton.

Sandy Stevenson.

Harvey Holton Poet

Born in Galashiels and brought up first in Nigeria, Harvey and his twin brother Brian returned with their parents and younger brother Norman to Scotland in 1955 and, after spells in Edinburgh, Falkirk and Larbert, moved to Gala in 1963.

Harvey attended Gala Academy, and in 1971 he married Anne and they moved to Fife. Harvey attended Dundee University, graduating with Honours in English Literature, after which he worked for several years as a forester in the Borders, Fife and Perthshire.

It was at this time his fascination with language led him both to take poetry seriously and to use it to express his deeply-felt love and understanding of the natural world. Harvey was very much a convivialist, following a tradition beloved of poets through the centuries. He soon began to have his poetry published in literary magazines and knew he had found his vocation.

In his great work Finn, an epic poem cycle in Scots, he reworks the oral traditions concerning the heroic warrior Fin MacCoull, using complex metres derived from bardic and alliterative verse. He always maintained, however, that the rhythm of line-thinning young trees with a chainsaw was an equally important source for the poem's music, as the alliterative line stayed better in his mind as he worked down the drill.

Finn met with considerable success. First performed with music from piper Hamish Moore at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1985, John Haswell's production of Fionn went on to tour extensively in Scotland.

In the early eighties, Harvey also visited American and Canadian First Nation peoples on a Scottish Arts Council scholarship, an experience which deepened his love and appreciation of his native country and the role of the land in our indigenous culture.

While continuing to make poems, he began to teach creative writing at Duncan of Jordanstone and elsewhere – his students always found him as informative and inspiring as he was entertaining and approachable.

He was an early influence on some notable figures, such as John Glenday and Kathleen Jamie. Always a man with a puckish sense of humour, Harvey was a great man for the crack, preferably with a glass of something tasty to hand, and made friends wherever he went.

His health in the past few years had not been good, but it in no way diminished his spirit, and to the last he was still the Border Lad he had aye been. He is survived by his wife Anne and his twin Brian.

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