South Scotland

Scottish poet JO Morgan scoops Costa prize

JO Morgan Image copyright Costa Book Awards
Image caption The poet said the Borders landscape sneaked into his work on a regular basis

A writer based in the Scottish Borders has won the prestigious Costa Book prize for poetry.

JO Morgan, originally from Edinburgh, took the award for his work Assurances about the nuclear tensions of the Cold War period.

He said that although the work was not based in the Borders, the local landscape had influenced it.

The judges said they were "dazzled" by the "originality and inventiveness" of the poem.

The poet - from Stow - said he was surprised to have won and was still coming to terms with taking the award.

"I think I can get round it in my head if I remind myself that it is the book that has won, not me," he told BBC's Good Morning Scotland.

"I get some benefit from it, obviously, but really it is great for the book to hopefully get more readers to it."

Image copyright Costa Book Awards
Image caption Assurances looks at the early years of the Cold War

Although previous works had been more clearly influenced by the backdrop of southern Scotland, he said the area was still a part of this poem.

"This one doesn't really focus on the Borders so much - it really takes us back to the late 1950s and early years of the Cold War," he said.

"There are a variety of voices that do come into it and overheard voices.

"But there is also the aspect of landscape and, of course, I do live in the Borders and I live in a rural part and I am often looking down the valley.

"It is very difficult to sort of avoid that landscape creeping into my work at any available opportunity and it certainly does here, keen-eyed readers will probably find."

'Intriguing subject'

The work was also influenced by his own family background.

"My father was in the RAF himself and he was actually part of the division dealing with the nuclear deterrent around that time so it was a subject that I just happened to know about," he said.

"In recent years I thought: 'I might try that, I might see what I can make of that'."

"It is an intriguing subject," he added. "It is still a relevant subject."

Mr Morgan takes £5,000 for winning the poetry section and is one of five winning writers now in contention for the overall book of the year award to be announced at the end of the month.

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