Hugh McMillan is a poet from Penpont in South West Scotland. His work has been published widely in Scotland and beyond, and he has won various prizes, most recently the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award in 2017 for Sheep Penned, published by Roncadora; he won the same award in 2009 for Postcards from the Hedge.
What attracted you about The Poets’ Republic?
I’ve seen lots of magazines since the truly great and radical Rebel Inc and Cencrastus claim to be cutting edge and so on, but I think TPR is the only one in the current poetry scene which isn’t pretentious, complacent or consciously ‘edgy’. I like fantastic poems from folk I’ve never heard of. That’s what brings the art alive to me.
What do you consider to be the most significant social issue in Scotland today?
Inequality. Bigotry. The wasting of the environment. Medieval land usage. Complete self-interested knob-ends at the heart of decisions. I want Scottish independence because I see it as a kind of solution. I hope we get it and I hope I’m right.
Which other poet would you recommend to readers of The Poets’ Republic?
Iain Crichton Smith where the lyrical meets the human in a beautiful and endless collision like the tide and the rocks. I’m seeing poetry as a political thing but I’m also seeing it more and more as mimicking, mirroring the essential sadness of being human. Nobody does it better than him.
Who should submit to The Poet’s Republic?
Everyone of course. Poetry is like breathing. Some of the greatest writers I ever read came to my writing workshop off the street then vanished. They wanted to tell their story and their stories make up the stories of our kind. You don’t need to have a PhD or a professorship or gilt-edged entitlement to write and write beautifully.
What is the best piece of writing advice you have been given so far?
Always drink the red.
Where can we find you online?
Facebook. I need a website. I’ve got a blog which I’ve neglected recently. It’s called Dark Mutterings from Drumsleet.
Any upcoming gigs or events?
Wigtown on Saturday 22nd Sept at the Festival. An NPD and Poets Republic event in Dumfries on October 4th with the dynamic Stuart Paterson and hopefully involving a rare reading by Josie Neill. I hope so. She’s brilliant. Book Week in St Andrews in November.
I’ve got two books out soon. A collaboration with my local shepherd in Penpont, ‘The Conversation of Sheep’, and a wee book about emigration/immigration- ‘Flotsam’ with the excellent and lyrical Australian poet Jane Frank, who appeared in PR6.