Poetry volume launch honours lecturer’s legacy

Colleagues of a University of Dundee lecturer who died in 2016 will celebrate his life this week by publishing a volume of his poetry.

Staff of the University’s English department hosted a crowdfunding campaign to raise the £2,000 needed to publish ‘THIS’, a collection of work by Dr Jim Stewart.

Despite having shown little interest in making his poems public during the early stages of his career, Jim was in the process of producing a volume of his work when he received his cancer diagnosis. However, after succumbing to his illness at the age of 64, colleagues Professor Kirsty Gunn and Dr Gail Low completed the process in honour of their friend.

With the launch of THIS to take place on November 14, Professor Gunn said, “This volume has been expected by readers and critics for a long time. Jim was immensely talented and is considered to be one of the best Scottish poets in recent times, despite being reticent in publishing his work before his diagnosis.

“Throughout his illness we started to compile a selection of his work, but sadly we ran out of time and Jim was not able to see THIS completed. We had always promised that we would see the project through on his behalf, however, and while this launch is particularly poignant, we are now delighted to be able to share Jim’s talent with everybody else.”

Having graduated from Dundee with a first class honours degree in English Literature in 1984, Jim Stewart returned as a lecturer and researcher in 1987, remaining at the University until his death.

Regarded as an inspirational teacher and a loyal colleague, he was known for his formidable intellect and love of poetry. But despite having pieces published sporadically in magazines, it was only in later life that Jim started to consider the possibility of producing a collection of his work.

Following his death, the University’s Writing Practice and Study programme launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the publication, with the £2,000 target reached just weeks later. With the publication process now complete, a public launch event in St Andrews will coincide with the volume hitting shop shelves.

Dr Gail Low, added, “The process has been emotional at times but incredibly rewarding and this will provide a fitting legacy to a man whom was much loved by students and University staff. We are proud to have been able to play a part in establishing his legacy.”

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