Andrew Greig’s second collection Men on Ice in 1977 changed his life. He had been what he calls an “armchair climber”, attracted by “the imagery and intensities” of climbing – however, mountaineer Mal Duff took Greig’s metaphors literally and invited him on a real Himalayan expedition. Greig climbed on three such expeditions, which led him to write books on them, which took him on to writing novels. Distinctions and prizes in three mediums have established Andrew Greig as one of the leading Scottish writers of his generation

Yet Greig considers poetry to be a higher art form – second only to music (Greig is also a musician) – using the analogy: “Prose is draughts, poetry is chess. Chess in four dimensions…. the additional element of sound, of cadence and phrasing.” He carries this attention to the music of language into his prose, which reviews have described as “lyrical” and “dazzling”.

Born 1951 in Bannockburn, Greig grew up in Anstruther, Fife. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh and is a former Writing Fellow at both Glasgow and Edinburgh universities, and Scottish Arts Council Scottish/Canadian Exchange Fellow. His mentor was the great Scottish poet Norman MacCaig, to whom he wrote the tender elegy “Norman’s Goodnight”, which you can hear on this Archive recording. This poem perfectly illustrates Edwin Morgan’s observations when he describes Greig as a poet “of sensitivity and resilience. He deals with high-risk situations – from mountaineering to love – and is particularly good at presenting the gamut of feelings involved in rites of passage: high endeavour, commitment, holding back, drift, release.”

In her review of Andrew Greig’s This Life, This Life: New and Selected Poems, Helen Mort notes how candid a poet he is. This book charts his childhood and adolescence, marriage break-up and later breakdown; it charts life-threatening illness and recovery, and throughout, the over-riding thrill of being alive in a world where the stakes are stimulatingly high: “Laughter rings across the ice. Why not?/ None of us will die today – that’s immortality/you can draw on like a cigarette,/ harsh and sweet, the way we like it.” (from ‘Interlude on Mustagh Tower’.)

Andrew Greig’s introductions to the occasions for the poems on this Archive recording are subtle and illuminating, and his voice is beautifully nuanced as he sings life into the words.

This recording recording was made at the Audio Workshop, London on September 9th 2010 and was produced by Anne Rosenfeld.

Poems by Andrew Greig

In The Tool Shed - Andrew Greig
Interlude on Mustagh Tower - Andrew Greig
Norman’s Goodnight - Andrew Greig
Orkney/ This Life - Andrew Greig
Andrew Greig in the Poetry Store

The free tracks you can enjoy in the Poetry Archive are a selection of a poet’s work. Our catalogue store includes many more recordings which you can download to your device.

Books by Andrew Greig



Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year Award for 'Another Light'

Featured in the Archive