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Brian Johnstone UK

Photo: Adrian Lewis
Photo: Adrian Lewis

Brian Johnstone was born in Edinburgh in 1950, but lived in Fife since the early ’70s. A well known figure on the Scottish poetry scene, he was a widely published poet, a prose writer and a live performer of his poems both as a solo reader and with his poetry and jazz group Trio Verso. First published as a student in the late 1960s, a subsequent 22 year career as a primary school teacher intruded on his creative development and he only seriously returned to writing in the late 1980s.

Since then, as well as achieving a notable publishing record with three full collections, three poetry pamphlets and a chapbook to his name, he gave readings and performances both at home and internationally and collaborated with a variety of artists and musicians. His memoir Double Exposure was published in 2017 to critical acclaim. His poetry pamphlet Juke Box Jeopardy (2018) was shortlisted for the Callum MacDonald Memorial Award in 2019.

The poetry of Brian Johnstone has been published extensively throughout Scotland, in the rest of the UK, in Ireland, and in over 20 countries worldwide. He gave readings at literary venues across Scotland, and at poetry festivals and other locations in England, around Europe and in Central and North America. His poetry has been translated into over a dozen European languages and is included in the UK Poetry Archive website.

A founder of StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival in 1998, he served as Festival Director from 2000-2010 and was subsequently an Honorary President. He lived on the edge of the East Neuk of Fife with his wife Jean Johnstone, a maker of artists books.

He died on 3 May 2021, shortly after the publication of his third full collection, The Marks on the Map.

Brian Johnstone has now been included on the prestigious Poetry Archive website. His page can be found here: