In “Hattonrig Road”, James Russell Grant would recount the bleak landscape, desolated by mining and pollution, and the direct effect that it had, both psychologically and physically, on the community where he grew up, in Bellshill, East of Glasgow.
Grant went on to become an art school friend of Burns Singer, and recalled how Singer’s lips would ‘pronounce words like they were giving birth to language; his long cadaverous fingers, much stained with nicotine, waved incongruously and incessantly to every word; his lean body, shifting in an ungainly lurch, merely a skeletal apparatus that followed his mind around’, a description that says as much of the describer as the described. The two went on to support each other’s poetic endeavours through the ensuing years, appearing together, for instance in Springtime. An Anthology of Young Poets and Writers, 1953.
He was an able critic, notably writing a long piece for Lines Review titled ‘The Tiger In Your Tank- The Pschobiology of The Tree‘, about Tom Scott‘s epic poem, and also dabbled in translation, turning Apollinaire’s Zones into Scots.
Like Norman Kreitman, Grant paired a career in medicine with wide-ranging and philosophical endeavours in poetry. He became a psychiatrist in London, taking special care of the homeless, setting up a women’s’ refuge and was the last medical officer of the Foundling Hospital. It was of London that he developed many of his poetic evocations, culminating in London Poems, 2006, which drew on musings from throughout his life.