Laurence I. Graham

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Laurence I. Graham, better known as Lollie Graham (b.1/07/1924, d. 5/11/2009), was a well known Shetland poet and author, born in Stromfirth. The family moved to one of the new croft holdings at Veensgarth, Tingwall, where Lollie lived until he died in 2009. He had been a part time crofter most of his life, active in local politics in the socialist cause.

After World War II, Lollie studied at the University of Edinburgh and Moray House College, Edinburgh, during which time he was active in literary circles and co-edited a volume of Scottish student verse. He returned to Shetland to take up a teaching post and taught at the Anderson Educational Institute and the Scalloway Junior High School. He was also headmaster at Urafirth Primary School and latterly the long-term and much loved headmaster of Gott Primary School. He contributed the biographical sketches to the important textbook The Shetland Book (1967), edited by Andrew T. Cluness.

Lollie provided an introduction and a commentary to the typescript Shetland Poetry - a recital in 1950, arranged by himself, his brother John J. Graham, and T. A. Robertson (Vagaland), with assistance from A. T. Cluness in selecting the poems. This collection, prepared for the Viking Congress in Lerwick, included a translation into Danish by Martin Melsted of an article by William J. Tait on Shetland language and literature.

He was Joint Editor of The New Shetlander 1956 till 1998 along with his brother, the novelist John J. Graham. He was editor of Shetland Crofters (1986); co-editor with Brian Smith of MacDiarmid in Shetland, a fine collection of essays on Hugh MacDiarmid published to coincide with the centenary of the birth of this eminent Whalsay resident in 1992; and editor of Hjaltland (1993) and A Shetland Anthology (1998). He contributed a fine paper on 'Shetland literature and the idea of community' to Doreen Waugh's collection Shetland's Northern Links: Language & History in 1996.

In 2000, the Shetland Library published Lollie's selected poems as Love's Laebrack Sang, a volume which demonstrates Graham as both a committed political poet, engaged in making response to the public events of the day via satire, and a Shetland poet with a deep love of his community and its history.

Laurence Graham's oldest daughter is the artist Ruth Graham.

Videos

Lollie reading "Waanderin Fram" and "Breiwick Geo":

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