All of the poems in the collection have been written since the untimely and sudden passing of the poet’s father in 2010 at the age of 68 and, while only three of them (“How Like My Father’s Hands…”, “King of Fife” and “Casole”) deal with this subject directly, many, if not all of the others, can trace their emotional and spiritual roots back to that event, however remotely or circuitously.
The poet lists Seamus Heaney, John Keats, Phillip Larkin, Emily Dickinson, and Billy Collins among his favourites and his chief influences. The first two probably explain the preponderance of the sonnet form in this collection, although throughout there are other poems that are equally “structured” in one way or another, from the cryptic numerical significances of “Pauline” and “On Reading to Kill a Mockingbird to my Daughter”, for example, to the more obviously concrete approach in “Antiode”. In addition, there are unashamed homages like “Vanity” (Billy Collins) and “In Emily Dickinson’s Poetry” (Emily Dickinson!). As well as the inspiration of other poets, readers will recognise the influence of an African context, a Christian /Catholic faith and a Scottish heritage, as well as a pervading sense of pathos that is surely attributable to the premature loss of a beloved father.
Steve Lang was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1968. He was raised in a large Catholic family in which he was the eldest of six children. Since the age of nine, significant periods of his childhood and working life have been spent in Africa, including stints in Malawi, Kenya, Zambia and now Uganda. While his parents worked in Malawi, Steve attended Douai Abbey, a Benedictine Boarding school in England, travelling back to Africa for the school holidays. He then went on to study English Language and Literature and Scottish Literature at the University of Aberdeen. During his formative years, Steve aspired to a career in professional football and had trials with a number of professional clubs in UK, including his beloved Partick Thistle. He represented England Public Schools at under-16 level and later Scottish Universities for two seasons. On completion of his degree studies, Steve bowed to the inevitable as far as his chances of a professional football career were concerned and enrolled to study for a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), again in Aberdeen; he has just celebrated the end of his 25th year in secondary school education and is currently School Director at Kampala International School, Uganda (KISU). In 1998, Steve married Jacqueline McDonnell, whom he met while working together with her in London and they have three children: Siena, Atticus and Columba.