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Marking the 10th anniversary of the Callan Gordon Award

Iain Gordon, father of Callan Gordon, highlights the impact the award has had on emerging writers over the last ten years.

Genre: Fiction, Poetry
Audience: Adults

Last updated: 23 May 2023

Callan Gordon

Callan Gordon is my oldest son. Sadly, in September 2011 he took his own life and is remembered and missed every day. Callan was a budding writer, particularly of poetry and short stories. This was his joy, his expression of who he is and what was going on in his mind.

In honour of his memory the family decided to support Scottish Book Trust to give an Award in Callan's name. It is now ten years since the first Award was given to Samuel Tongue. We congratulate Hannah McDonald on being the latest recipient of the Award. The Award is to support young writers (35 years of age and younger) to develop their skills and confidence to become independent published authors. Thus far we have sponsored six young people who have gone on to do great things as writers.

As so well described by Samuel: 'The Callan Gordon Award changed my writing life; through the generosity of Callan's family, I was initiated into a writing community for which I continue to be grateful. I was supported to develop my own practice, in both poetry and performance, and have reaped myriad benefits from this initial impetus, including publication, book festival appearances, workshops, and international residencies. As the first recipient of the award, I hope that I embraced it in the spirit in which it is intended. I know that the award's legacy continues to be profound for my own writing, and I trust it is the same for subsequent awardees.'

Another recipient, Karyn Buckland, says, on having been through the programme, 'At that time, I had little confidence or self-belief, so to have my writing recognised gave me a life-changing boost. I think the award was a major factor that contributed to start my career as a screenwriter.'

Congratulations to all the recipients of the Callan Gordon Award for their outstanding achievements, including collections of poetry (Samuel Tongue's Sacrifice (Red Squirrel, 2020); Patrick Errington's the swailing (McGill-Queens University Press / Hugh MacLennan Poetry Series, 2023) and a television series (Karyn Buckland's Cold Call (2019), broadcast on Channel 5).

It is a pleasure to know that others can achieve recognition for their writing that Callan was not able to do in his lifetime. Not because he didn't have the talent but because he wasn't given the opportunities that Scottish Book Trust has to offer. The Gordon family looks forward to continuing to work with the Trust to support young adults to achieve their full potential as writers.