Niall Campbell Reviews & Features
‘Noctuary is a homage to night-time, to “that midnight thrill of being alive”, to the small, stray moments that make up a life. It is also a passionately tender examination of what it means to have and care for a small child.’ – Suzannah V. Evans, Times Literary Supplement
Scottish poet Niall Campbell, whose debut Moontide won both the Saltire First Book of the Year Award and the inaugural £20,000 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award, published his second collection Noctuary with Bloodaxe in April 2019.
Noctuary is a lyrical collection poems about young fatherhood and the small hours. Written from Niall Campbell’s new home in Leeds, the poems nevertheless draw on the seascapes, myths and wildlife of South Uist, where he grew up. In this noctuary, a diary for the late hours, poems record moments of beauty and tenderness to be found in those broken nights when caring for a young son.
Listen to Niall Campbell narrate a poem he wrote especially for the Radio 4 feature Ballad of the Fix, about Scotland's drug problem, here. This was a BBC Radio 4 Pick of the Week.
On 10 April 2020 Niall Campbell made audio recordings of himself reading and introducing six poems from each of his two collections. Available via his website here.
NIALL CAMPBELL POEM SET TO MUSIC FOR THE BBC RADIO 3 CAROL COMPETITION
Breakfast, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 3 Carol Competition & The Friday Poem, Friday 16 December 2022 & Friday 23 December, 6.30am-9am
The 2022 BBC Radio 3 Carol Competition invited listeners to set a tune to a specially commissioned poem by award-winning poet Niall Campbell.
Gareth Malone and fellow judges Ed Balls, YolanDa Brown, Anna Lapwood and Manvinder Rattan chose a shortlist of six carols from nearly a thousand submissions. The settings were harmonised by the husband-and-wife duo of Joanna Forbes L'Estrange and Alexander L’Estrange.
The BBC Singers were in the studio at Maida Vale on 16 December to perform the six shortlisted carols live on Radio 3's Breakfast. Listeners were invited to vote online for their favourite setting. The winner was announced on Breakfast on Friday 23 December and was performed live by the BBC Singers. Winner Maurice Walters was interviewed down the line from York. His carol was played a number of times on BBC Radio 3 over the festive period.
For The Friday Poem on 16 December, a recording was played of Naill Campbell reading his new poem ‘The Winter’s Brightening’, which has been set to music for the competition this year. It was described later by conductor Bob Chilcott as ‘a particularly lovely poem – it’s got lots of atmosphere’.
The Friday Poem was introduced at 1:21:10. The BBC Singers were introduced by presenter Petroc Trelawny at 1:43:44, and they performed all six shortlisted carols during the last 50 minutes of the programme. Listen here.
The winner was announced by presenter Petroc Trelawny on Breakfast on 23 December at 2:08:03. Listen here.
The text of Niall Campbell’s commissioned poem ‘The Winter’s Brightening’ and audio of him reading it, along with audio of all six carols, are here.
Niall Campbell also wrote the libretto for a one-act opera by Anna Appleby. Drought was premiered at BBC MediaCity in Salford on 26 October 2022, performed by the BBC Philharmonic and singers Lila Chrisp (mezzo soprano) and Sally Pitts (soprano). It was recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3. See photos of the performance on Anna Appleby's website here.
This opera is the result of a three year collaboration between composer Anna Appleby and poet Niall Campbell, who wrote Drought together for their doctoral research.
REVIEW COVERAGE FOR NOCTUARY
Times Literary Supplement, Friday 17 April 2020
‘Following on from the inky darkness of Niall Campbell’s first collection Moontide (2014), set by the shores of the Outer Hebrides, Noctuary is a homage to night-time, to “that midnight thrill of being alive”, to the small, stray moments that make up a life. It is also a passionately tender examination of what it means to have and care for a small child.’ – Suzannah V. Evans, Times Literary Supplement
Available in full by subscription via the TLS website here.
Scotland on Sunday, Sunday 5 May 2019
An in-depth review of Niall Campbell’s second collection Noctuary ran in Scotland on Sunday. Roger Cox praises Niall Campbell’s ‘careful, crafted, lyrical’ poems.
‘A noctuary is a night journal and many of the poems here feel as if they have been written in the strange, dreamlike state between sleeping and waking… rich, ambiguous allusions only heighten the sense of the poet’s confused, half-conscious state, his mind ping-ponging from one idea to the next.’ – Roger Cox, Scotland on Sunday
Click here to read the full review.
The Yorkshire Times, online Wednesday 1 May 2019
An in-depth review of Niall Campbell’s second collection Noctuary was featured in the regional online newspaper The Yorkshire Times on 1 May.
‘Many of Campbell’s fine poems are ruminations on the difficulties and rewards of new fatherhood. And, to shamelessly plunder a much-overused critical conceit, they are irresistibly luminous, which is to say that they give off a steady light in introspection. A city-dweller originally from the remote Hebridean island of South Uist, Campbell perceives relationships through the kaleidoscopic glass of landscapes current and remembered...In truth, there is so much of enduring value in Noctuary that the reader struggles to climb out of the amniotic water.’ – Steve Whitaker, The Yorkshire Times
Read the full review here.
The Island Review, online Friday 26 April 2019
Two poems from Niall Campbell’s second collection Noctuary were featured on The Island Review to mark publication. The poems featured are ‘Crusoe, One Year on the Island’ and ‘February Morning’.
‘Written from his new home in Leeds, Campbell records with lyrical beauty and tenderness the experience of young fatherhood. He draws on the seascapes, myths and wildlife of South Uist, the island where he grew up which featured heavily in Moontide, his debut collection and recipient of the Saltire First Book of the Year Award and the inaugural Edwin Morgan Poetry Award.’ – The Island Review
Click here to see the feature.
[22 April 2020]