Douglas Lipton: Scottish Poet
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Douglas Lipton was born in Glasgow in 1953 and Glasgow remained his home for 25 years or so, the city of his childhood and education. After graduating from the University of Strathclyde, he trained as a teacher and moved to Dumfriesshire in 1977 to take up a first teaching post in Moffat Academy. In the late 1980s he moved to Lockerbie Academy and the early 1990s saw Lipton return to work in Moffat. He is married with two children and now lives in Dumfries.
Having started to write poetry in his teens, Lipton was encouraged to join the influential creative writing evening class run by Glasgow University's Department of Extra-Mural and Adult Education, led by Dr Philip Hobsbaum. This resulted in his first publication in the Department's new magazine, EMU. While a student at Strathclyde, Lipton was successful in its Keith Wright Memorial Poetry Competition and made contact there with creative writing fellows, William McIlvanney and James Aitchison.
In the mid-1980s - now resident in Dumfriesshire - collaborations with artists Keith McIntyre and Kenny Morrison were featured in exhibitions in Glasgow's Compass Gallery and Dumfries's Gracefield Arts Centre respectively, and these projects marked a significant step in Lipton's work as a poet, with numerous combined arts collaborations thereafter. West Coast Magazine, Orbis and Lines Review accepted other work and, in 1990, New Writing Scotland 8 - The Day I Met the Queen Mother published Lipton's long, satirical outburst - The Flora and Fauna of an Independent Scotland. Directed by his wife, Hazel Lipton, this piece was given a dramatised reading at the 1991 Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival. A special performance programme was designed for the event by Kenny Morrison.

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That same year, a major collaboration with Keith McIntyre and composer Karen Wimhurst - Songs for the Falling Angel - a requiem for Lockerbie - was performed at the Edinburgh International Festival. The composition, for which Lipton wrote the libretto and McIntyre developed art work, was performed by a company which included Ian McCrorie's Scottish Festival Singers (as they became known), saxophonist Steve Kettley (then of the Cauld Blast Orchestra), clarsair Mary Ann Kennedy, soprano Frances Lynch (of Vocem - electric voice theatre) and girl-soprano Sarah Watson. Songs for the Falling Angel was also performed in Dumfries's Crichton Memorial Church and, subsequently, accompanying an exhibition of McIntyre's associated paintings, prints and sculpture, in Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. The piece was a joint commission by the Festival, the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Television and a performance-documentary, directed by Alastair Scott, was broadcast by the ITV network at the end of 1991. At the 1995 dedication ceremony of the cairn of Dumfriesshire sandstone erected in memory of the dead of the Lockerbie disaster in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, USA, two of Douglas Lipton's poems from Songs for the Falling Angel were read by the wife and daughter of Martin Simpson, one of the victims of the terrorist bombing of Pan American Flight 103.

In 1993, Lipton's first full collection of poems - The Stone Sleeping Bag - was published by Hamish Whyte's Mariscat Press of Glasgow. It includes both The Flora and Fauna of an Independent Scotland and the poems from Songs for the Falling Angel.
Further publication of Lipton's poems ensued in the early- to mid-1990s, in anthologies such as New Writing Scotland, Mungo's Tongues, and Mr Burns For Supper, and in journals such as Cencrastus, Poetry Wales, Gairfish, Markings, Northwords, The Dark Horse and Southfields.
At this time, Douglas Lipton became Literary Events Convenor for the Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival, initiating events such as a Writers'-Free-For-All and a Young Poets Competition, as well as maintaining the Festival's tradition of significant poetry and prose readings. A collection of the best work submitted to the Young Poets Competition in the years 1994-1998 - Chinese Spare Ribs - was edited by Lipton and published by Dumfries & Galloway Libraries, Information and Archives, along with the Festival (1999).
In 1997-98 the Dumfries & Galloway Arts Association joined with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra to develop a community-based project called Flights of Fancy. Along with Karen Wimhurst as composer and 'animateur', and Frances Lynch as soprano and vocal coach, Douglas Lipton led writing sessions which developed into the composing workshops and, ultimately, a performance in Dumfries Museum with musicians from Mr McFall's Chamber (players from the SCO) and sound engineer Rick Bamford. A cassette recording by the SCO and a publication, edited by Lipton and John Hudson, accompanied the performance.

More of Lipton's poetry continued to appear in the late 1990s, in magazines like Fife Lines, Poetry Scotland, Markings, and Southfields, and in further anthologies including After the Watergaw and The Sound of our Voices. During this time, Markings Publications brought out two short collections of Douglas Lipton's work - The Outside World, which consists predominantly of what might be called 'family' or 'domestic' and spiritual pieces, and Fairy Tales, which takes themes from the tales of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen and develops them into a response to the Holocaust.

Throughout this period - mid 1990s onwards - Douglas Lipton has undertaken numerous public readings across south-west and central Scotland and northern England. He has read at Colpitts Poets in Durham, Poets and Prints in Ayr, Literature Live in Penrith, the Shore Poets in Edinburgh, at Waterstone's in Glasgow, at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh, with the Solway Festival Poets, and at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. He has also done workshops and readings with school groups from infants to seniors, and has undertaken readings and workshops at two of Glasgow University's Extra-mural 'community outreach' creative writing and poetry classes in Dumfries and Kirkcudbright.

In 2000, the Dumfries & Galloway Arts Association joined with the National Schizophrenia Foundation (NSF Scotland) in a 'Rites of Passage' project, and invited Douglas Lipton to work with NSF members in their Dumfries drop-in centre to produce a body of poetry and prose to accompany its 'Spiralling Aspirations' exhibition in the Dumfries Gracefield Arts Centre. The exhibition took place in November 2000, and a booklet of selected writing made by the group - The Hall of Mirrors - was published, edited by Lipton.
During 2000-01, Lipton contributed to a number of notable anthologies. These included two in Alec Finlay's 'pocketbooks' series - Atoms of Delight - an anthology of Scottish haiku and short poems and Without Day - proposals for a new Scottish Parliament. Lipton's work also featured in Donny O'Rourke and Hamish Whyte's Back to the Light - New Glasgow Poems, the Shore Poets celebration anthology - Such Strange Joy - Ten Years of the Shore Poets, edited by Allan Crosbie, and John Rice's selection of Scottish poetry for younger readers - Scottish Poems (Macmillan Children's Books). The Scottish Poetry Library has also included Douglas Lipton on its CD of readings by contemporary poets - The Jewel Box - the recordings for which were made by Zoë Irvine.
In 2001, Markings Publications brought out another 'chapbook' of Douglas Lipton's poetry - Hale-Bopp Poems - to which the appearance of the comet of that name gave rise.

The first decade of the new millennium saw Douglas Lipton continuing to contribute to literary magazines and undertake readings - particularly associated with the excellent Galloway-based Markings publication and The Bakehouse arts venue in Gatehouse-of-Fleet. In 2009, Lipton published two substantial collections: "An Enclave in Eden" and "The Aquarium".

In 2012, Douglas Lipton began a fruitful relationship with the Romanian-based (Bucharest) multi-lingual literary journal Orizont Literar Contemporan (Contemporary Literary Horizon) becoming a regular 'collaborator' with frequent poetry contributions and a critical essay about his work appearing in the associated book by its editor-in-chief, Daniel Dragomirescu: Orizonturi Interculturale. The journal publishes poetry and prose in many languages, translated by the writers and by a team mostly from the University of Bucharest. As one contributor (Paul Mein) said, in 2014: "In these troubled times, Contemporary Literary Horizon does more to promote world harmony than the United Nations".

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