Official Website of Author, Poet & Translator
John J. Coutts
Welcome to my website! I am a poet, performer, author and translator. I've written extensively for BBC radio and published books and articles in the fields of literature and religion. I have recently retired as Poet-in-Residence at the Smith Art Gallery and Museum here in Stirling, Scotland. 'The Smith' has already published 'Oswald the Cat's Book of Poems for Fun and Finding out',intended for children and grownups as well. To mark my retirement, 'The Smith' has also published [July 2021] 'Enchanted Ground', a new collection my poems about exhibitions and items in the Museum
As a poet, I believe that obscurity is not profundity, and that obscenity is not originality. I write in 'traditional' metres - and many of my poems are intended for public performance as well as private reading.
My qualifications include a first class degree in English Language and Literature from Oxford University and PhD in New Testament Studies from Edinburgh University. I am also a linguist - a number of my translations from Russian have appeared in The Complete Works of Alexander Pushkin in English" - Published by Milner & Co. A new bilingual edition of Pushkin's Lyrics is now appearing, published by the Alma Press. My latest publication is 'Rap around the Gospel'- stories from the life of Jesus with rap commentary. It's available as a paper copy or a PDF and rappers are welcome to copy and adapt the scripts to suit their own talent. Email me to find out more.
POEM OF THE MONTH
The Polmaise Miners’ Banner
Recovered from a back garden in Fallin by Dr. Elspeth King and restored by Kevin Meek]
‘Anon’ was not ‘anon’ to those who knew her,
Or him. But now this loving work is nameless.
The trophy on the calm Museum wall
Marks the restorer’s name, but not the artist.
Unlike so many brave trade union banners
It trusts in simple words: no shops or ships.
No Lenin, no Keir Hardie, no symbolic
Female figures: not the pithead tower,
Holding the wheel that turned and turned and turned.
The blackened men, who toiled and toiled and toiled
Deep underground, appeared in person, rallied
On solid strike behind their simple standard
And marched - ‘First out, last back’ – until defeated
By time, technology and politics.
This was the Polmaise Miners Banner, made
Redundant, like so many; then discarded,
Junked – or thriftily deployed - to shield
A pile of useful wood in someone’s garden.
Polmaise no more! The site is greened and gone
But not forgotten, while its honoured ensign
Hangs on the calm museum wall, retrieved,
Restored - and given proud and precious place.
For which much thanks is due to Elspeth King.
Who sees the truth in such a simple thing.