Poet, scientist, mountaineer, wild swimmer and marginal gardener, Geoffrey John Fraser Dutton was, throughout his life and endeavours, interested in ‘the reconciliation of the objective and the subjective’. Born in Chester in 1924, his studies in biological science took him to Edinburgh in 1949, and he remained in Scotland for the rest of his life. Having literally crossed paths with figures of the Scottish Renaissance in the 1950s – their famous haunt, Milne’s Bar, was also the ale house of preference for the Scottish Mountaineering Club – it was not until 1973 that, with the help of Anne Stevenson, Dutton put forward his poems for publication.
These poems, in the austerity of their language, are reflective of the landscapes which he found in his adopted homeland. For Alan Wall, this was part of a style that had ‘no furniture to carry, and chats to no one’; indeed, Dutton himself considered the unpopulated nature of his poetry a relief from the daily interactions that were part of his professional duties. Regularly included in anthologies, his poems have most recently been collected in the volume The Bare Abundance: Selected Poems, 1975-2001 (Bloodaxe, 2002).