Gavin, it’s a beautiful winter’s day –
East coast, clear and bright. Let’s leave it there,
rinsed of all metaphors. Instead, let’s take a novel
for a walk – a good long, meandering walk.
Let the novel be contemporary, Scottish,
and let’s love it; let’s love its good writing,
before we even begin to discuss whatever
it is that makes it so. This is buoying us up
and, with each step, we’re joined by others,
sharing in your generosity and insight. And you’re
leaning into your laugh now – that splutter
of delight – as you dance over the pages
filling them with possibility and light. Gavin,
love gives us flight. Let’s all of us
take off, fly over the blue dashing Forth.
Let’s circle Fife – its harbours, its gentle fields,
its friendly, sociable commute. It’s late, Gavin.
We love you, Gavin. But we’re losing height.
One last hug; one final, fulsome kiss, cheek to cheek.
And we head for home, each of us diminished.
About this poem
Gavin Wallace (1959-2013), for whom this poem is an elegy, was the Portfolio Manager for Literature, Publishing and Language at Creative Scotland, the national arts agency. He was previously deputy, then head, of the Literature Department at the Scottish Arts Council. He was a passionate advocate for Scottish literature, had worked on Cencrastus and been co-editor of the Edinburgh Review in the 1990s, and co-edited books on Scottish theatre. As Catherine Lockerbie wrote, ‘he earned the absolute respect, affection and gratitude of the literary and artistic community within which he worked. He never let protocol suffocate passion’ (see the obituary by David Robinson in the Scotsman, 6 February 2013). Tom Pow’s poem reflects this feeling of esteem and affection, and shock at Wallace’s untimely death.