Alastair Reid (b. 1926, Whithorn, Galloway) is one of Scotland’s foremost literary figures in poetry, prose and translation. To mark his award by the University of an honorary degree, the Library is mounting a small exhibition of his life and work in the display area of Library Level 3.
After war service in the Navy and graduation from the University of St Andrews, Reid went on to have a long, distinguished and varied career working throughout the world as poet, translator and champion of South American literature, including such luminaries as Jorge Luis Borges, Mario Vargas Llosa and Pablo Neruda. Indeed in a famous conversation with Neruda, Reid recalls: ‘Once, in Paris, while I was explaining some liberty I had taken, he stopped me and put his hand on my shoulder. “Alastair, don’t just translate my poems. I want you to improve them.”
For many years he was a staff writer and South American editor for the well known New Yorker magazine. He has published more than forty books including works for children, as well as poetry and prose in titles such as Oases, Whereabouts, Weathering and To Lighten My House. Most recently, in 2008, he published in the U.K. two career-spanning volumes, Outside In: Selected Prose and Inside Out: Selected Poetry and Translations.