Read Raw Ltd


Promoting Creative Writing in Scotland


Poet of the Month


Tom Bryan


Tom Bryan was born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1950, but has been long resident in Scotland, his mother’s country. He is a widely published and broadcast poet, fiction and non-fiction writer. Writer-in-Residence in Aberdeenshire, Scottish Borders, and until November 2008 was the sixth Brownsbank Writing Fellow in Biggar, South Lanarkshire. He lived for many years in Strathcanaird, Wester Ross, where he co-edited “Northwords” magazine. Tom has edited three literary magazines and was the founder of “The Eildon Tree” magazine, still going in the Scottish Borders. He has also edited anthologies.


To date Tom has four published collections of poetry, three non-fiction books, a small book of short stories and a novel. His short stories have appeared in many leading anthologies and literary magazines in Britain and abroad. Plays a bit of harmonica and writes songs and has also had a dramatic piece about the mythical Scottish bard Thomas the Rhymer performed in the Borders, the Highlands and the State Theatre in Tula Russia.


Tom lives in Kelso in the Scottish Borders



Tom Bryan, National Poetry Day, 2008. St. Elizabeth's Primary, Eddlewood, Hamilton. "Pink" theme, hence the borrowed sombrero.



Below are a couple of his books with comments


Tom Bryan, Redwing Summer


Tom was Brownsbank Writing Fellow in Biggar, has had collections published before, and we are proud to present this one: in it, he writes especially powerfully of the small failures of life which are also paradoxically successes because they affirm the reality of our living.


(Selkirk Lapwing Press, 2005. ISBN: 0953121275).






Tom Bryan is a poet of places and people. He does not stand alone but needs to know where he comes from. But the history informing these poems comes not from books, but living experience and personal testimony, whether in Canada or Scotland. His feel for the natural environment reverberates in his description of landscape, no blurred moor and bracken backdrop, but startling specifics. In his love of the land, and its people, he speaks out to the widest community.


Sept 1996, 64pp, 215 x 140 mm, pbk, ISBN-10: 0-906772-63-X / ISBN-13: 978-0-906772-63-8







Tom has given us a selection of three new poems for your pleasure




(after reading the New Zealand poet James K. Baxter’s “The Bay”

“I remember the bay that never was”


Nowhere is a stringent place,

on a map more real than a six foot grave.

Trig points spike the routes

where Hansel forgot the string

where all roads lead to gingerbread houses

where only murderers bide.


I’ve travelled that road so often

that its map folded into my brain,

nowhere is traced and copied,

to terra incognita and back again.


Baxter, your “bay that never was”

filled with spiders and overgrown weeds,

forgotten carvings of pain and loss.


My road that never was

came from nowhere born

to nowhere gone.






Sam and Otis, I was too.

Le Fourche, “The Fork”

mud and froth, like milky coffee in a roadside diner,

French Voyageurs’ portage.


Moving ever since, river and me,

like an uprooted cottonwood.

Knowing rivers don’t live forever,

they dry up, shrink, thicken into oxbows.


I also disprove old Heraclitus,

by “stepping into the same river twice”,

when it finally comes round,

ice-melt flood, lapping my back door.


Then roaring away to the furthest sea.

Maybe becoming cloud and rain,

but flowing home, like me,

to the source again.






Rough Guide to Iran, 1976



The bus stalled by a dry creek bed,

under a spume of shooting stars.

Owls queried our squatting rights,

dogs barked at bandit shots.


Those were biblical foothills,

old, but we were too young for dread

as dogs grew silent, the night went dead.


Drivers went prayerful, faced East

but dawn came at last

as we all dared go out to piss,

women’s skirts spread out like cactus flowers.


The driver’s malevolence was melted

by Neil Young’s rock mantra on tape.

The bus rumbled over deserts,

leaving last night somewhere out there,

dying in its own twilight.


We were heading East, if not toEden,

at least to a less troubled garden.



All poems on this page are the copyright © of Tom Bryan














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