Callan Gordon Award: Samuel Tongue

Samuel Tongue

Callan Gordon Award

The Callan Gordon Award for New Writers has been set up to celebrate the life of Callan Gordon, a young Scottish Writer. 

Samuel Tongue was born in Bath in 1981, grew up in South Wales and moved to Glasgow in 2008 to begin a PhD in Literature, Theology and the Arts at Glasgow University. This work looked at poetic retellings of ‘Jacob wrestling the angel’ (Genesis 32:22-32) to analyse how biblical stories live on in contemporary culture. He has published poems in numerous journals and anthologies including Maquette, The Exeter Flying Post, Succour, From Glasgow to Saturn, The Red Wheelbarrow, Anon 7, Northwords Now, Spellwinders: The Clydebuilt Jazz Ensemble, and  North Light: The Anthology of Clydebuilt 3. He was selected as a member of the 2010 Clydebuilt Poetry Apprenticeship Project, mentored by Liz Lochhead. In addition, he won the International Ragged Raven Press competition (2011) and was highly commended in the William Souter Prize (2011)—the poems appeared in the subsequent anthologies Nothing Left to Burn and Stone Tide respectively. A prose piece on the beginnings of light in the universe (funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council [STFC]) is available at Once Upon a Universe. With colleagues from the Clydebuilt Project, he performed a special showcase at the 2012 StAnza International Poetry Festival. He currently teaches World Religions and New Testament Theology at Glasgow University.



Sample poem- 'Necropolis'

“O, the heart is not made of stone

as I said, it’s made of flame...”

                             Anna Akhmatova


We came for this angel and no other.

You say how her maker fell for her,


appearing slowly from the granite block

like a lover surfacing from a long soak.


I think he shivered at her distant gaze,

the cold flame in her stone iris, how he was    


forced to carve the strong arms, broad chest,

the smothering wings, with a touch of dread,


secretly slitting vital muscle

from her hollow bird-like bones, scalpel


flashing in the dark, fearing her flight

to learn the dangerous name of God. Low light


casts her in bronze, wings folded, arms crossed,

cool lips sealed with cobwebs and frost.



“Receiving the Callan Gordon Award is an honour and a wonderful opportunity to move from poetry apprentice to poetry professional. I am very much looking forward to the chance to refine and pursue a substantial poetry project I have had in mind for a while.”


Comment from Callan's family

'Callan's family is thrilled that Samuel Tongue is to be the recipient of the Callan Gordon Award this year. He has an exceptional talent and we are sure that this will blossom under the guidance of the Scottish Book Trust. We wish him every success.'