Donald S Murray
writer & poet

Donald S Murray – writer & poet

Throughout his career, Donald S. Murray has regularly contributed to the likes of The Guardian, The Herald, the Scottish Review, Bella Caledonia, and the Shetland Times, among others.

The islanders who brought a Shetland flavour to COP26, Shetland News

THE COP26 summit brought world leaders to the table in Glasgow to discuss how to tackle the climate emergency – as well as experts and industry. But there was also a Shetland presence at United Nations’ global conference earlier this month, with a number of islanders heading to Glasgow to speak or take part in events.  Roseanne Watt and Donald S Murray both spoke at an event designed to bring together island poets to discuss climate change resilience and adaption.

Country diary: an island built on seaweed, The Guardian

short distance from the white-walled cottage that was my grandparents’ home, my grandson sifts sand, finding shells, a fragment from a willow-pattern plate, and sea glass, green, brown and clear, long rubbed smooth by the movement of waves. They are not the only items that man and Atlantic have deposited here over years. There is also the tangle of kelp that autumn has washed up. The white expanses of Tiree’s beaches are covered with the wrack of long brown-stemmed seaweed at this time of year.

Country diary: Arctic terns swirl around a grey stretch of rock, The Guardian

Haar sharpens people’s perceptions, for all that it blurs our view of land and sea. On this stroll to the shore, for instance, the lighthouse on the isle of Bressay facing our home has disappeared. There is no glimpse either of the pair of swallows I sometimes come across on my route, darting over the stream that leads to the village’s seaweed-strewn beach. Nor am I aware of my usual companion on these strolls, the curlew that arcs in flight, bubbling in alarm, as I approach the vicinity of its nest.

A Father’s Role, The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Lady Prudence performs a swallow dive, The Island Review

Jellicoe could not have seen his daughter
that day in Madeira, but if he had been witness
to her stillness and exactitude above water, 
he might have recalled the panic and distress
of those aboard the 'Queen Mary', 'Indefatigable', 'Nomad'
and how they flailed their arms and dived into the cold off Jutland,
how the smoke consumed them and their comrades, 
how there was no time to contemplate or plan
an intricate manoeuvre like the one upon the cover page
of 'Tatler' with Prudence in both swimsuit and bathing cap
diving below Reid's Hotel, the cliffs and crags a stage
for her performance. No need to agitate or flap,
unlike those seamen on the dreadnoughts,
there would be maid-servants racing round with towels
making sure her trembling skin was warm and wrapped. 

Stir it up, silver darlin’: Bob Marley provides the soundtrack to a sea voyage, The Herald 

THE ghost of Marley – Bob, that is, not Jacob – has done his share of haunting me during my times at sea. 
On a particularly ferocious trip from south Harris to the far western isle of St Kilda, his songs spun on a continual loop, played by one of the yacht’s crew. I was reassured by continual reminders not to "worry about a thing", while the waves crashed, thunderous and white around me, lashing the back of my life jacket, rendering me wet, cold and miserable.

A rare capacity to inspire, Scottish Review

Sometimes real friendships emerge from surreal times. Alex Cluness and I first spent long hours together when I was working in – what was beyond doubt – the most bizarre school in which I was ever employed. Among its many absurdities were posters illustrating the work of Edward de Bono blu-tacked to the corridor walls in the learning support department. It was this I recall fulminating about one night in his home – how I was struggling to take seriously the 'educational philosophy' this involved, how it was impossible to contemplate for a moment a crackerjack theory in which people were instructed to put on (and remove) caps that illustrated their thinking skills, whether these were imaginative, organisational or motivational.

A poem for Barra, Scottish Review

'We are all survivors,' we tell ourselves each spring
when we look out to see lambs suckling
their mothers, conscious for the first time in months
that seas are still and there's heat emerging from the sun,
that bird-song has chipped away the stone –
coloured skies stretching out all winter above the roofs of home.

Love-making in St Kilda, The Dark Horse

Bela Lugosi in Stornoway, SY StorY

I was definitely typed, doomed 
to be an exponent of evil:
each time I stepped into a room,
there was that still
expectation something wicked would be done

Sphagnum Moss, The Guga Stone

Sphagnum moss remembers. It recalls
the touchdown of each lark that tumbles
down upon its surface, the slightness of that weight
recorded in the tendrils of each stem. It anticipates
the appetites of flock which graze
upon that wasteland when the rare haze
of summer-heat crisps heather.


The man who made the request stop
for Achanalt never left the train;
though we looked to see his foot or suitcase drop
upon the platform, no one ever came


My latest books