Iain Banks is celebrated as a novelist and science fiction writer. It is less well known that his first published work was the poem ‘041’, in New Writing Scotland in 1983. Like the poems that appeared within his novels, this was selected from the many he had written between 1973 and 1981.
Banks took his poetry seriously and worked on it assiduously, but showed it mostly to friends. He first thought of publishing his poetry late in 2012, though insisted it be a joint collection with his life-long friend Ken MacLeod. The two writers were working on this project when Banks learned of his terminal diagnosis, and continued thereafter. He made his final revisions just days before his death.
Readers of Iain Banks’ novels will find in the poems a further affirmation of the humane, sceptical and clear-eyed sensibility that informed all his work, shot through as ever with a dry wit that continues to disturb and delight.
Ken MacLeod edited and introduces this collection.