Born in 1941, David Betteridge has recently retired from a career in teaching and teacher training. Long involvement in teaching English, both as a Foreign Language and as an Alternative Language, led to his co-authoring of a couple of textbooks on the subject. In 2002 Raymond Ross accepted a group of “Glasgow Poems” for publication in Cencrastus. Following that David Betteridge has placed poems in Acumen, Agenda, Anon, Blake (An Illustrated Quarterly), Chapman, Freedom Springs, Markings, Gutter, New Scottish Writing, Northwords Now, Poetry Scotland, Pulsar, and Saw. In 2008, Andy Croft of Smokestack Books brought out a selection of his poems, old and new, Granny Albyn’s Complaint. This book is a celebration of the city in which he has lived for most of his life, Glasgow. Through conflicting voices, he portrays something of recent history, and a glance to the future too. In an anthology that he has recently edited, A Rose Loupt Oot, also published by Smokestack, sets out to capture the spirit of the UCS work-in of 1971-72 through a selection of old and new songs, poems, drawings, photographs and witness statements.
About writer's work
Granny Albyn’s Complaint is a love-letter to the city where David Betteridge has spent the best part of his life. Lyrical, narrative, satiric and reflective, his poetry celebrates the city’s radical political and artistic traditions, in despair and hope, struggle and advance, continuity and loss, and all the lovely flarings-up of human achievement. Since Granny Albyn’s Complaint, poetry pamphlets have been the focus of his work, jointly with a gifted graphic designer, Tom Malone.They have been experimenting with ways in which poems and sequences of poems can be “through-composed” in pamphlet form.
So far, they have produced ten pamphlets, now archived in the National Library of Scotland along with the growing body of work inspired by the Callum Macdonald Poetry Award initiative. Their first pamphlet was Phoenix-Forms, a verse cantata about creation in all its variety, energy, and beauty. Their second pamphlet was Needing an Opposite, the theme of which is “You” and “I”, and how we might relate. Their third pamphlet, Nothing Lost, is about change and continuity. Their fourth pamphlet, Countervailing, is a reworking of "Found", an elegy for the crew of the Solway Harvester, drowned at sea, in 2000. A fifth pamphlet, Beyond; and Other Journeys, describes journeys that are both virtual and real. Number six in the sequence is Cross-Sections, which looks at the way past things are contained and revealed in present things. Passing On (on themes related to tradition) comes next, followed by an eighth pamphlet, Late Quartets, inspired by music and musical form. In 2014, the year of Scotland’s great argument with and about ourselves, came a double pamphlet, called Lost & Won / Won & Lost, followed a year later by a verse-and-prose biography of the author's grandfather, co-authored with Hazel Betteridge, Artist & Artisan.
Most recently, David Betteridge has contributed several poems and short essays to the left-wing website Culture Matters. These include an obituary and elegy for the late John Berger (January, 2017). In conjunction with Manifesto Press, Culture Matters has also published a book of his poems, Slave-Songs & Symphonies (2016), with drawings by Bob Starrett. This book attempts to give, among other things, a history of the world in about a hundred lines.
Websites featuring the authorSmokestack BooksScottish Poetry Library Culture Matters
Current events and projects
I am available to run (or contribute to) the following types of events:
1) readings (solo, or with one or two colleagues) from my books of poems and/or the poetry pamphlets mentioned above, with a brief commentary on them. This is what I provided at the West End Festival, Glasgow, in Hillhead Public Library (2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012). I am especially interested in combining music and photographs with my readings.
2) discussion with readers’ or writers’ groups about the craft of writing poetry, including study of examples of my own work (as above) and/or theirs.
Kaleidoscope: An English Course for Juniors co-authored with Andrew Wright and Nicolas Hawkes University of York/Macmillan, 1975
Games for Language Learning co-authored with Andrew Wright and Michael Buckby Cambridge University Press, 1979, revised 1984 and 2006
Chapter on "Personal and Social Education" in Scottish Education, edited by Tom Bryce and Walter Humes Edinburgh University Press, 1999, revised 2003 and 2008
The following poems have been published in poetry magazines since 2003:
"A Compendium of Essential Terms” (an A to Z, from “Aonach” to “Zumswang”) Anon One, 2003
“Carillons” (a “Joycean” tribute to James Joyce) Acumen 51, 2005
“Taliesin” (a celebration of the seasons) Acumen 55, 2006
“Epithalamion” (a wedding gift for two friends in Hungary) Acumen 60, 2008
“A Pierced Shell”, “The Journey Back”, and “Found” (three sea poems) Agenda 42, No.7, 2006
“Found” is an elegy for the crew of The Solway Harvester, lost at sea off the Isle of Man in January, 2000. The poem appears on the Agenda website (www.agendapoetry.co.uk)
“Supplements to Magazine - Poems”, Issue 42, No.7. It can also be seen in pamphlet form in the Scottish Poetry Library.
“Hard”, “Sufficient”, “Four Exults”, and “Beyond” (attempts at capturing the beauty of things observed while walking about, looking) Northwords Nov 4, 2006
“Fox and Stars” (a record of a night scene at Bingham’s Pond, Glasgow) New Writing Scotland 25, 2007
“Climbing Ben Dorain”, “A Riddle”, “A Botany Lesson”, and “Gifts for a Poet” were all published in Chapman 109, 2007. A short extract from “Climbing Ben Dorain” was taken by my friend, the composer Ronald Stevenson, for use in his choral and orchestral epic, "Praise of Ben Dorain", which is mainly (but not exclusively) a setting of Duncan Ban MacIntyre’s Gaelic masterpiece, "Moladh Beinn Dobhrain". (To hear words of mine sung by the massed voices of a choir accompanied by a large symphony orchestra, as I did at a Celtic Connections performance of Stevenson’s work (January, 2008) is an experience unlikely to be repeated.)
"To Basho" Three poems, of diminishing length, ending with a haiku, inspired by a reading of Basho's The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Markings 30, 2010
“Jaggily”, “Banners & Roses” and “Showing a Way” Three political poems in A Rose Loupt Oot: Poetry and Song Celebrating the UCS Work-in, Smokestack Books, 2011
“Issie on Odradek” A bit of word-play on a serious subject, with a nod in the direction of James Joyce and Franz Kafka, in Gutter, Issue 6 (2012)
“Scotland, 2014”, in Scottish History in Verse, edited by Louis Stott (Mainstream, 2013)
“A Second Home” and “Graffiti Generations”, in Making Waves (New Voices Press, 2014)
“Citizens’ Song”, "Empowering" and "Yes", in Scotia Nova, edited by Alistair Findlay and Tessa Ransford (Luath Press, 2014)
“An Open Gate”, in Emancipation & Liberation, Issue 23, Winter 2014
Shortly after the death of John Berger, the website Culture Matters published a fable-poem “A Coverlet of Green: In Memoriam John Berger” (18 January, 2017), in which David Betteridge celebrates the life and work of an admired and influential mentor.