Stewart Conn was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1936 and brought up in Ayrshire - in the Burns country. Married with two sons, he lives in Edinburgh where he was head of BBC Scotland's Radio Drama Department, until leaving in 1992 to concentrate on his own writing.
One strand of his poetry draws on farm imagery, animals and people, and depicts a way of life that has now gone. In this way too, he establishes his family background and aspects of his own identity. In his poems of city life, too, he depicts figures against a changing background. His ready response to place has resulted in sequences of poems written in places as widely removed as France and southern Africa. He has also been inspired by paintings, most notably in Luncheon of the Boating Party, a sequence consisting of five monologues inspired by Renoir's famous painting of that name.
Luncheon of the Boating Party
Why choose " Luncheon of the Boating Party" as a subject for poetry? Conn says "The painting chose me." When he saw the famous Renoir painting in London for the first time, he was inspired to write five short poems, each from the perspective of a different person involved in the creation of the painting.
Poems from Stolen Light
Poems both old and new are thematically grouped into this collection of Conn's poetry. Conn's poetry contains traditional subject matter, yet reflects the reality of life today. Take a look at two featured poems from this collection, Under the Ice and Air and Water, and hear them read by the author in Media Player, MP3, or Wave format.
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Conn's self-selected retrospective is as impressive a presentation of this substantial poet as will probably ever be made. Conn sorts some 35 years' worth of poems into seven untitled groups. Common subject matters are family life, traveling (especially in Scotland, Conn's homeland), and painting and the other plastic arts. Friendship and human sympathy inform and characterize virtually every poem: it is hard to imagine a more appealing poetic persona than Conn's. [View a selection from Stolen Light.] Also, check out his new book, Distances, at the the American distributor for the Scottish Cultural Press at Wilson & Associates Publishing Services.
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About This Site
In March 2000, Stewart visited the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he thrilled a packed penthouse audience with readings from several of his works, including "The Luncheon of the Boating Party" and poems from Stolen Light. This site also features the poem "At Eau Claire", which was written by Conn while he was visiting the UW-Eau Claire campus. Faculty members Joel Pace and Dennis G. Jerz received permission from Stewart to post this website, which features audio clips of Stewart reading his poetry. This text was edited by student April LaBlanc and approved by Dr. Pace; the layout was edited by student Kelly Marcks and supervised by Dr. Jerz. (See: site credits.)