GaelicRugadh William Neill am Preastabhaig, Siorrachd Àir, an 1922. Chaidh e do dh’Fheachd Rìoghail an Adhair nuair a dh’fhàg e an sgoil, agus, às dèidh dha iomadh àite is ceàrnaidh fhaicinn, dh’fhàg e an t-arm anns na 1960an, agus rinn e litreachais na Ceiltis aig Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann. Bha e a’ teagasg Beurla an Gall-Ghàidhealaibh mus do leig e dheth a dhreuchd, agus dh’fhuirich e an uair sin an Crois Mhìcheil.
Chaidh a’ chiad chruinneachadh aige fhoillseachadh is e còrr is lethcheud bliadhna a dh’aois; Selected Poems 1969-1992 (Canongate, 1994) agus Caledonian Cramboclink (Luath Press, 2002). Am measg obair dhrùidhteach tha eadar-theangachaidhean bho chànain Eòrpach, is iad tric a’ rannsachadh mion-chànain na h-Eòrpa agus beachdan mun deidhinn. Chunnaic e a chuid bàrdachd – an Albais, Gàidhlig agus Beurla, mar ‘a standing up for the small tongues against the big mouths.’
EnglishWilliam Neill was born in Prestwick, Ayrshire in 1922. He joined the RAF on leaving school, and having seen many parts of the world, left the forces in the 1960s, and studied Celtic literatures as a mature student at the University of Edinburgh. He then taught English in Galloway, before retiring to the village of Crossmichael.
His first collection of poems wasn’t published until he was in his late-40s while notable later collections include Selected Poems 1969-1992 (Canongate, 1994) and Caledonian Cramboclink (Luath Press, 2002).
His poems appeared in many anthologies and were broadcast on radio and television. He won both the Grierson Verse Prize and the Sloan Prize in 1970; received a Scottish Arts Council bursary in 1984 and a Book Award in 1985 and was sponsored by the Scottish Arts Council and the British Council for readings in Ireland and Germany respectively
Willie was the editor of two Scottish literary magazines, Catalyst and Lallans, and was a frequent contributor to many others. William Neill’s impressive body of work includes translations from various European languages, often exploring other ‘minority’ European languages and attitudes to them. Willie, as Angus MacMillan quotes in his excellent essay in the book on the poem ‘Map Makers’, always saw himself as ‘standing up for the small tongues against the big mouths’ – Scots and Gaelic being ‘the small tongues’ threatened by ‘the ravenous maw of English.’