'Murray is an evocative painter of landscapes and a deeply sympathetic writer.'
Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail

'He writes with an inherent understanding of Highland culture, language, and way of life.'
The Herald

'...one of the great lyrical writers of our time.'
Cathy Macdonald

Interview by Katie Macleod for Scottish Islands Explorer Magazine

While the rest of us baked banana bread and loaves of sourdough to pass the time during last year’s lockdowns, Donald S. Murray wrote three books. But even without the enforced time at home, the author says he’s never found it difficult to write. “I think I live in my head so much it’s been okay!” he laughs.

ONE GOOD REASON TO REMAIN IN LOCKDOWN
(inspired by Colum McCann’s ‘Apeirogon’)

It is safer to stay still.

Migrating birds are often killed
by everyday obstacles.
Such as steel pylons, the chill
of unexpected snowfall.
High windows.
Crops that either rot or fail.
Sandstorms. Occasional oil-spills.
Poison. Overflowing drains.
A jagged, rusty nail.

All reasons why it’s wiser to remain
like the blackbird, starling, sparrow,
birds that rise and dip,
gorge and peck their fill
among the trees that grow
just beyond the space where I write,

outside the window-sill.

At six o’clock (or so) this morning,

they broke out of social isolation,
their songs a mix of celebration,
wooing, warning
as they rejoiced in close proximity
within a garden lined and edged by trees.
 
Did I envy them - these starlings, sparrows?
Yes - for the way they recklessly embraced
their neighbour’s plumage,
squabbled beak to face,
swirled into the distance,
 
Unlike those of us all bunkered down,
the grounded human race.
 
DSM
 
*******************************
 

A different view from isolation


A lockdown poem

Today I saw myself as I might have been
some fifty years ago, a youngster clambering rocks
as he slipped the ties that bind
their kind these days round laptop screen and X-box.
Who knows what he’ll find
as he explores both moor and shoreline,
ignoring the chill of the occasional snowflake
whirling like these terns reeling round the nearby beach?
I saw, too, a cock-sparrow among branches,
a clutch of buds and blossoms crammed within his beak,
scratching out a nest he’ll build now and in the coming weeks,
like that young lad preparing for his future
scaling rock and wondering how much farther he can reach.

A young filmmaker based on the Isle of Lewis will be producing the movie based on The Women Lay Dreaming, the acclaimed new novel by Lewis writer Donald S Murray exploring how generations of the same family were affected by the legacy of the tragedy, which struck when a naval yacht crashed into rocks near Stornoway in the early hours of New Year’s Day, 1919.

The project, which has won the backing of a new talent project to find “Scotland’s filmmakers of the future” being funded by the BBC and Channel 4, is being undertaken by John Murdo MacAulay, aged 25.

The Scotsman newspaper reports that:

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