Rab Wilson

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Rab Wilson (born 1 September 1960, New Cumnock, Ayrshire) is a Scottish poet who writes mainly in the Scots language. His works include a Scots translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, and the poetry books Accent o the Mind, Life Sentence, and A Map for the Blind.[1]


He held an engineering apprenticeship with the National Coal Board, working at Barony Pit in Ayrshire, but gave up mining as a result of the UK miners' strike (1984–1985) and instead trained as a psychiatric nurse.[2][3]

As well as poetry, he has also campaigned on health issues, for the rights of health workers to speak openly about their concerns and act as whistleblowers.[4][5][6]

In 2012 he spoke to lawyers at the 4th European Collaborative Conference.[7]

He is closely connected with Scottish national poet Robert Burns, who was also from Ayrshire. Wilson worked on the project Burnsiana with Calum Colvin[8] and discovered that Burns may have taken part of Tam O' Shanter from English poet Edmund Bolton.[9]

In 2013 he was selected as the first James Hogg Creative Resident, living and writing in Ettrick Valley, home of the poet and writer James Hogg.[10][11]

He won the 2008 McCash Scots poetry competition.[3]

In 2009 he jokingly threatened to behead Conservative politician Kenneth Baker while giving the address to the haggis at the Wordsworth Trust Book Festival Burns Night.[3]


The Ruba'iyat of Omar Khayyam[edit]

His free translation of The Ruba'iyat of Omar Khayyam was published in 2010.

The Jolly Beggars[edit]

Wilson adapted Robert Burns' The Jolly Beggars for the stage.[12] It was a runner-up for the 2007 McLellan Award for Play Writing.[13]

Ye're There Horace![edit]

Ye're There Horace! was an art book based on the Roman satirist Horace, made in conjunction with artist Hugh Bryden.[1][14]


Burnsiana is a collaboration with artist Calum Colvin, producing an art exhibition and book featuring poems written by Wilson in response to the work of Robert Burns. Colvin produced artworks by painting Burns-related images onto rooms full of objects.[8]

Other poetry[edit]

His other works include the 15-sonnet sequence 1957 Flying Scot, a tribute to a Scottish bicycle manufacturer's marque, Flying Scot. The sequence has been performed as far afield as Brooklyn.[15]


  1. ^ a b "Rab Wilson". Scottish Book Trust. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  2. ^ "Rab Wilson". Scottish Poetry Library. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  3. ^ a b c "Scots wha hae seen top Tory put to the knife". The Scotsman. 31 January 2009. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  4. ^ "Rab Wilson says nomination for Burns award 'doubly welcome'". Cumnock Chronicle. 30 December 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  5. ^ McArdle, Helen (25 November 2013). "Whistleblower takes NHS case to Scottish Parliament". The Glasgow Herald. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  6. ^ "Health board accused of 'serious failings' by information commissioner". The Scotsman. 22 February 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  7. ^ Forsyth, John (11 June 2012). "Poetic justice: delegates left pond'ring value of a rhyming verse or two". The Scotsman. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  8. ^ a b "New take on work of Robert Burns". Dundee Evening Telegraph. 14 December 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  9. ^ Kelly, Stuart (31 October 2009). "Did Burns steal ideas from an English poet?". The Scotsman. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  10. ^ "Poet Rab Wilson named as first James Hogg writer-in-residence". BBC. 28 June 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  11. ^ "Full Report: Scottish poet heads to the hills". ITV News. 8 August 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  12. ^ "Liam Logan meets Scots poet, Rab Wilson". BBC. 26 November 2006. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  13. ^ "Rhyme time". Southern Reporter. 5 July 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  14. ^ "Rab Wilson's new book on the satires of Horace". BBC. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  15. ^ Kuntzman, Gersh (2 April 2012). "Call It 'Spoke and Word' Night at Red Lantern Bicycles". New York Times. Retrieved 24 January 2014.

External links[edit]