News, Reviews and Awards
Some highlights from the last few years
2016: a novel for children, An Trěůir agus Lůbag, to be published by Acair later this year. Reading at Shore Poets, Edinburgh in February. Read poem at the Culloden Anniversary Service. On the Isle of Raasay with students from Coventry University. Forthcoming: June 21st, launch of the book about Sorley MacLean Ainmeil Thar Cheudan at Sabhal Mňr Ostaig, Skye, in which I have a paper.
In 2015 I composed a poem which I read at the Culloden Anniversary in April. At the Blas Festival, Broadford, Skye. Read paper on “Religion and Attitudes to Religion in 20c Gaelic Poetry” for the Gaelic Society of Inverness. The poem “Dňchas/Hope” on SPL poetry card for National Poetry Day.
In 2014 I was busy with the LearnGaelic.net online Gaelic course for beginners, www.LearnGaelic.net School poetry workshops in various Skye schools in September. Launch of the Gaelic poetry collection Tro Chloich na Sůla at Sabhal Mňr Ostaig and Portree. Twenty of the poems in the collection are about well-known painters and paintings which can be viewed at www.clar.org.uk/post/102360177124/ealain-tro-chloich-na-sůla
In 2013 I was working on the book Tro Chloich na Sůla, and on my personal blog. At the Applecross Poetry School in August. The poem “Rudan a Ně Uisage” on an SPL poetry card for National Poetry Day.
2012 was a stressful year with my wife being diagnosed with a serious illness, but also many wonderful things happened. I have told the story in a blog which is archived and can be accessed at http://maoilioscaimbeul.wordpress.com The relevant blog entries are Maol Ěosa 1-28. This year I was honoured to be named Gaelic Bŕrd for the Gaelic Society of Inverness, following in the footsteps of the late Derick Thomson.
The highlight from 2011 was undoubtedly the launch of the book Island Conversion. It is co-authored with my wife, Margaret, and tells the story of how I became a Christian believer, along with arguments for believing in a supernatural origin of the universe, as opposed to a naturalistic explanation. As well as an account of unusual personal experiences, there are chapters on synchronicity, the numinous, miracles and science and religion.
Excerpts from reviews of books
Most of the excerpts below were translated from Gaelic.
Island Conversion, The Islands Book Trust, 2011
“This book offers three for the price of one: the spiritual autobiographies of both a Gaelic poet and his wife, interspersed with learned excursions into the scientific findings and philosophical theories which so deeply colour life in today’s western world. It is the story of fulfilled dreams and divine coincidences, interrupted by encounters with Jung and echoes of the Big Bang. Very human at its heart, and tinged with mysticism, yet unmistakeably reflecting its own time; and a fascinating reminder that scientist, poet and religious seeker can happily inhabit one and the same mind.”
(Professor Donald MacLeod, from the back cover of the book.)
“an enthralling and intelligent testament”
“You, the reader, do not have to be a believer or an agnostic, a scientist or a poet, a Saxon or a Gael to appreciate this book. It is not an isolated story, but it is a unique publication. Its fine prose is studied throughout with Myles Campbell’s poetry, used frequently to illustrate his developing consciousness.”
(Roger Hutchinson, West Highland Free Press, 2011)
Breac-a’-Mhuiltein (Mackerel Sky), Coiscéim, 2007
“One of the reasons I’m so fond of Myles Campbell’s poetry is that his voice belongs to him alone. These poems are not referential. Not that one cannot sniff out MacLean’s voice here, and Smith’s voice there – I’d swear Dňmhnall Ruadh Chorůna’s voice comes across in one specific line – but this is because the author is soaked in Gaelic poetry, as ought to be the case.
Myles’s best poems range from those which are a feast to the eye and ear and which can be understood immediately to those which are a feast for the mind and which require many a careful reading before their depths are quarried. And there are many in between.”
(Ronald Black, Northwords Now, Autumn 2007)
Saoghal Ůr (New World), diehard, 2003.
“There are are sweet tuneful strains here. There is a fine series of poems about some well-known birds. They speak to us in their own ways. There are also children’s poems, and these are accomplished. Old and new – and young – coming together. I like that. A very agreeable book for the pocket, and one to stimulate the mind quickly and profitably. Don’t be without it.”
(Donald Meek, Gath, Summer 2004)
“And, in a sense, the strength of his Gaelic-ness as a poet has placed Caimbeul in somewhat of an ‘underground’ world. Since he has tended towards favouring his poems being published in an untranslated form only, this poet’s reputation has grown but he has remained to a large extent known only within the Gaelic world. At a time when some of us, who are always opening an English window to our poetry, have been travelling the world, as Gaelic poets, he has been happily ploughing his own furrow of inquiry – the mind has no need of ship or car to travel far and wide.
In a way, it is hard to say if that is a matter for pride or regret since, at the height of his prowess, I reckon Maoilios Caimbeul to be as good as any poet we have today, and it would be a matter of enormous regret were the wider world to remain ignorant of him.”
(Aonghas MacNeacail, Cothrom 41, Autumn 2004)
A’ Gabhail Ris (Accepting, acknowledging), Gairm, 1994
“Maoilios Caimbeul is one of the poets who has an established reputation in the world of contemporary literature. That in itself is no small achievement with the number of writers continually expanding; and if the writers themselves don’t compete with each other, such is the situation in which readers are liable to place them. And where would Maoilios be placed in that series? Amongst the foremost, I should think. This is now his fourth collection. In the first poem he asserts;
I’m a net.
Throw me in the depth,
“And his own nature does that anyway. Patient for tides,/the fisherman and net are one. The net spreads and tightens about the web of his thoughts – and he himself sometimes, mind and heart, finds himself entangled in the mesh of the net. But he is not unaware of what is happening.”
(John MacInnes, Gairm 171, Summer 1995)
Talfasg (Gairm, 1990)
“I greatly enjoyed this story. The writer has a talent for bringing a new world into existence...He keeps the story moving quickly. He is aware of the new technologies that dominate our lives. And now and again a poignant scene emerges from the story, especially when Eachann sees himself as an old man. Also we see love becoming stronger as things become more difficult.
I’m certain that youngsters in schools will enjoy this story and I regret that there weren’t such narratives when I was young myself.
I hope the author continues to write stories such as this, recounting the misadventures and adventures in which these two youngsters find themselves.”
(Iain Crichton Smith, Gairm 152, Autumn 1990)
Gaelic Books Council poetry prize
SAC bursary, 1987
A Grampian TV prize
Comunn na Drŕma 1st prize for children’s play, Penny agus Tasdan, 1989
An Comunn Gŕidhealach, National Mod Bardic Crown, 2002