Hamish Whyte was born near Glasgow where he lived for many years before moving to Edinburgh in 2004.
He has edited many anthologies of Scottish literature, including Noise and Smoky Breath: an illustrated anthology of Glasgow poems 1900-1983, The Scottish Cat and An Arran Anthology, Kin: Scottish Poems about Family (Polygon/Scottish Poetry Library), and Scottish Cats (Birlinn) as well as co-editing several issues of New Writing Scotland.
He runs Mariscat Press, publishing the poetry of Edwin Morgan, Gael Turnbull, Janice Galloway, Stewart Conn and A.L. Kennedy among others.
He has worked as a librarian, reviewed crime fiction for Scotland on Sunday and is currently an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow. He is a member of Edinburgh’s Shore Poets and plays percussion in the Edinburgh-based band The Whole Shebang.
TESTIMONIES (Scotland 1923-1965) (2022)
Inspired by Reznikoff’s Testimony: the United States (1885-1915), this is Whyte’s powerful testimony of Scotland. Based on readings of historical records from Scottish criminal courts, Whyte’s ‘found’ poems present lost stories and voices. These visceral accounts from the 17th to 20th centuries bear witness to suffering and conflict, both ordinary and terrible. Meet Gavin Renwick of Fairybank Cottage (a room and kitchen); the crew of the Schooner Nymph; James Moody, innkeeper. Meet David Balfour, porter and pointsman; rival shoemakers, William and John; Hannah Barton, an English pickpocket. These stories – pleaded, blurted, concocted under pressure – will shock and move readers everywhere.
Edwin Morgan was, without question, one of the foremost Scottish poets of the twentieth century. His tirelessly experimental approach was dynamite in his time and still (just read him!) knocks spots off most contemporary writers.
During the last three decades of Morgan’s long life, poet Hamish Whyte was first his bibliographer, then (through Mariscat Press) one of his publishers, and finally—and most importantly—his close friend.
This personal and evocative memoir tells the inside story of a life-changing friendship.
Whyte’s fourth collection with Shoestring Press, Paper Cut ‘honours… the fleeting and often quirky aspects of our lives by rendering them into memorable and moving art…These poems have a spiritual strength and emotional grandeur that belies their humble form and register, each poem underpinned with love for family, for a partner, for a moment… Whyte’s poetry is hospitable, he invites the reader in with wit and clear language to a place where they want to linger, if not bide. There is humanity here in spades. [Richie McCaffery, London Grip]
THINGS WE NEVER KNEW (2016)
Whyte has a lyrical touch to his poetry that is often derided in the modern politicised and performance poetical traditions. This is poetry that needs no grandiloquence, no explanations, no justifications: Whyte is serving up slices of his life in small, almost graceful lyrics that charm their way into your mind.’ [Gutter]
‘He catches enlightening glimpses of the world out of train windows and presents us with instants of great emotional depth (like a grandfather and child burying a pet mouse) in a manner that seems beguilingly simple. If you too have a collection of stones gathered at significant moments, but now you’ve ‘no idea where most of them/are from’, this collection of poems is for you.‘ [Mandy Haggith, Northwords Now]
THE UNSWUNG AXE (2012)
The second collection by Whyte to be published by Shoestring Press and, like its predecessor, A Bird in the Hand, notable for its technical skills and unassuming, wide-ranging wit.
A BIRD IN THE HAND (2008)
Whyte’s first full collection gathers together poems from the previous twenty-five years, published in pamphlets, magazines and anthologies, as well as more recent work.
‘[The] collection contains… poems so pellucid they don’t call for explication. His subjects are, for the most part, homely: his father, his son taking photographs of shells, a woman reading the tea leaves, his wife asleep, a couple seen behaving oddly on a railway train, a much-missed cat… There’s nothing portentous or pretentious about him. His poem “Otis”, about that cat, is the best I’ve read on the subject since Hardy’s. Thought is never replaced by rhetoric in these poems.’ [Robert Nye, The Scotsman]