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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Alexander Hutchison

26th November 2015

Alexander (Sandy) Hutchison’s death on 24 November at the early age of 72 has deprived us of a supporter and champion of poetry in Scots. Born in Buckie, he went to Aberdeen University, then spent two decades teaching in Canadian and American universities. On his return from Canada around 1980 he met and married Meg Stiven, a daughter of Tessa Ransford. They have a son and daughter, Lucy and Max.

Essentially and absolutely Scottish, Sandy was a fine poet in Scots and was widely known across Canada and America as well as Italy, Nicaragua and other countries. No one ever had a word to say against him, and his gentleness, humour, kindliness and generosity are cited again and again by his many friends. His main books, Scales Dog: New and Selected Poems, and Bones and Breath, published by Salt in England, both contain substantial sections in Scots. Bones and Breath won the Saltire Book of the Year in 2014.   

Creative Scotland recognised him and published an account of his “Poetry Adventures in the Americas” on their website in May 2015. It includes this paragraph on Scots:

“When I was headed to Central America I turned two of Ernesto Cardenale’s poems into Scots – in hope of meeting him, and getting permission to publish. I did meet the great man, who is revered of course in Nicaragua  ...   at one point in our brief meeting he asked his assistant, Luz, about this business of translating into Scots. 'Is it like English? Is it as good?' I tapped his wrist gently and, when he turned his face to me, said smilingly: 'Better. Better!' He grinned, and we shook hands.”

Photograph by the late Dominique Carton.

Report is from Sally Evans.