The professor’s poetic tribute to the hometown of Lanarkshire after more than 50 years across the pond



A man from Lanarkshire who left Scotland for a new life more than 50 years ago has shared childhood memories of his hometown in a recently published collection of poems.

Robert Graham’s book – Before the yes – includes two literary works centered on his memories of Wishaw.

The 75-year-old author, known as Roy, lives in Canada but grew up on Alexander Avenue in Wishaw.

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His first book, Prefabricated, paints a picture of his childhood in the “temporary” accommodation built in the town of Lanarkshire.

“We lived in prefabs for the first 15 years of my life before moving up the housing ladder to Cheviot Crescent in Wishawhill,” Roy said. Lanarkshire Live.

“There are just a few things that you don’t forget, and the challenge is trying to create or shape those memories into something that other people could speak to.”

Before the Yes, a collection of poems recently published by Robert Graham

About seven years ago he visited Wishaw with his wife and daughter and went to Cheviot Crescent where they took photos.

As a child, Roy attended Wishaw Primary and Wishaw High. The two are long gone, but his love of poetry dates back to his school days.

“I’ve always written poetry and I think I still have a tattered piece of paper from a Wishaw Elementary School magazine in 1958. It was my first published poem,” he said. added.

“It’s something I always knew I wanted to do.”

Beasts of burden , the second of Wishaw’s poems in Roy’s latest book, is about his grandfather driving a horse-drawn cart from Clydesdale, delivering Irn Bru from the Barrs factory on Greenhead Road in Dimsdale.

“I had been trying to write this poem for 40 years and I couldn’t get a clear idea,” he said.

Prefabs – a poem by Robert Graham

“As a little guy my grandpa would take me with him for childbirth and when you’re a kid it’s just romance you don’t forget things like that. If you read the poem carefully enough, you realize that they were a team – the cloth cap driver and the horses.

“I wanted to honor the horses and my grandfather.

After graduating as an English teacher and emigrating to Canada at the age of 21, Roy taught for almost 20 years in high schools there, admitting he had to temper his Scottish accent for it. help them be understood by their students.

He then returned to graduate school, earned a doctorate, and became a university professor.

“I was teaching English teachers,” Roy revealed. “Teaching has been my life and I loved doing it. “

Thanks to a lifelong friend still living in Wishaw, he is able to keep in touch with what is happening in the city and up to date with his other love – Motherwell FC.

Roy continued, “I have two friends from 70 years ago, Lesley Smith and George Thomson.

“We met in elementary school and I’m still in touch with the two of them. George has lived in Canada longer than I have. Lesley still lives in Coltness. We are both lifelong supporters of Motherwell and share their ups and downs. down by email all the time. “

Another Motherwell institution, Ravenscraig, features in another of his poems and has been published in the 125th edition of the Scottish Left Review.

“I’ve always wanted to write something about closing Ravenscraig. What a piece of history the steel mills were.

“My father was born and raised in Craigneuk and you just couldn’t know Ravenscraig was there and what it meant for the life of the borough.”

Before the Yes is Robert Graham’s third collection of poems. It is available from Amazon, Waterstones, and other booksellers in paperback and hardback, and online in Kindle format.

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