Roofer wins lucrative poetry deal

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William Letford began writing poetry of rooftops

A ROOFER turned poet who writes poetry on the roofs of buildings he has worked on has landed a lucrative publishing deal.

William Letford, 34, Stirling, who works as a full-time roofer, has earned a name for himself in the poetry world for writing on the roofs of buildings.

But the 34-year-old’s bizarre creativity has paid off as he has secured a deal with Carcanet Press for his first volume of poetry, called Bevel.

He said: “I was already writing poems when I started working as a roofer with the family firm. I decided to write poems on to the roofs that I was working on, often on to the joists or under the slates.

“When someone comes across it they might not understand it or appreciate it, but I love the idea that 100 years from now someone might discover what I’ve written.”

Letford’s poetry primarily reflects his work as a labourer and was featured in the Edinburgh Book Festival last year.

In one of his poems- It’s Aboot the Labourer- he uses the words “hammers nails” as a tribute to his profession.

He is also known for reading poetry in obscure locations such as outside a tradesmen’s burger van and on the ScotRail Glasgow toStirlingtrain.

“I enjoy reading one to one or to a small group of people,” he said.

“It’s great, that feeling of transmitting your work to someone else in the hope that they’ll enjoy it.”

The publishing deal will see Mr Letfords poems being released on paper for the first time in 2012.

Michael Schmidt, managing and editorial director at Carcanet Press, said that Letford was a unique talent.

“Billy first stood out to me as a remarkable performer of his work, speaking it from memory and keeping his eye on the audience, not the page,” he said.

“His poems are always accessible, but they are not as simple as they may seem at first,” he added.

Caitrin Armstrong, writer development manager at Scottish Book Trust, which awarded Letford a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in 2008, said: “Billy is one of the most original and striking voices in modern Scottish writing and we are over the moon that he’s been recognised.”

When he was 12, Mr Letford sent some of his poems to Roger McGough- an English poet- who encouraged him to keep writing.

But in his twenties, he joined the family roofing business and has worked in the trade ever since.

Following in other Scots poets footsteps, Mr Letford attempted to use social networking site Twitter as a medium for his work in 2009.

His first and last tweet read: “Holding my mouth open wide, hating the dentist, through one eye.”

Author and poet Alexander McCall Smith regularly uses the site to post his latest work but the roofer will no longer need the site as his first volume will be published in November 2012.

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