David Morrison was born in Glasgow in 1941, and educated at Glasgow High School for Boys and Hamilton Academy. After leaving school he worked as a library assistant with Lanarkshire County Libraries, then attended Glasgow College of Commerce to qualify as a professional librarian. A position in the library of Edinburgh College of Art, when he was 24, afforded him the opportunity to frequent the city’s pubs, in the company of John L. Broom, inevitably meeting many of the poets of the time.
In 1965 he and his wife (the ‘Glenna’ of the poems) moved to Caithness, an area which became his spiritual home. He was appointed County Librarian in 1972, becoming Area Librarian for Caithness and Sutherland by the time he retired.
Morrison’s life away from libraries was devoted to literature and the arts. The term ‘literary agitator’ seems to sum up his activities. He started the radical literary journal Scotia in 1970; when it was succeeded by Scotia Review in 1972 (which carried the subtitle ‘For the Scottish muse and nation’, suggested by the poet Tom Scott), Morrison gave warning of his editorial stance, saying that he was confident the Review would be ‘an even greater thorn in the flesh of those who wish to deny Scotland her independence on both a political and cultural level’. Both publications included poetry in English and Gaelic, from some of Scotland’s leading poets, and literary and political essays and reviews. Latterly, Morrison was assisted by Alan Bold, Tom Scott and others as editorial advisors.
Poetry readings, and poetry and jazz or folk events organised by Morrison alongside the magazines developed into the Wick Festival of Poetry, Folk and Jazz, which ran from 1977 until 1983. Morrison continued as a cultural catalyst in Caithness until his death in 2012.
Morrison’s own poetry is collected in The Cutting Edge: collected poems 1966-2003, published by Poetry Salzburg, to which Gerry Cambridge has written a critical introduction.